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CT DEEP Expects Elevated Risk Of Wildfire Over Holiday Weekend



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HARTFORD - Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) on June 30 reminded residents and visitors that forest fire danger levels are High because of the dry conditions over the past several weeks. In addition, special care should be taken over the holiday weekend with the use of sparklers, fireworks, and other potentially flammable materials.one on March 26 that required a response from three companies.Weather Forecast: Rain, Thunderstorms, Then More SunForest Fire Prevention Tips

DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said on Thursday that while some parts of the state had some rain in recent days, and there is a chance for some showers on Friday, July 1, "the forest fire danger will remain at High or above until we get a good statewide soaking.

"As always, Connecticut residents and visitors alike need to take precautions to prevent forest fires - especially with the forecast calling largely for hot and dry conditions to continue throughout the state over the next few days," Mr Klee continued.

Mr Klee said anyone enjoying the outdoors at a state park or forest should always limit their campfires to the stone or metal rings provided. They should also be sure fires are doused thoroughly when done.

He also noted that recent gypsy moth defoliation has left many trees bare, especially in the southeastern, portion of the state. The defoliation allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor, and creates drier conditions that contribute to the rapid spread of fires.

DEEP reminds all state residents that if they have a permit from their local Open Burning Official allowing them to burn brush on their property, the permit is not valid if the Forest Fire Danger is rated High, Very High or Extreme. Permits also do not allow any burning within 100 feet of a grassland or woodland.

The Forest Fire Danger is posted daily on the DEEP website at DEEP: Forest Fire Danger Report.

DEEP's Division of Forestry constantly monitors the danger of forest fire to help protect Connecticut's 1.8 million acres of forested land.

So far this year, 300 acres have burned in Connecticut. The average number of acres burned per year in Connecticut is about 500.

Since the beginning of the year, Newtown's five fire companies have responded to at least 13 brush fires including three separate incidents on April 14, and

Anyone spotting a forest fire should call 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire department.

As of 4 pm June 30, the National Weather Service is predicting sun for most of Friday, June 1. Showers are thunderstorms are likely, according to the weather service, mainly after 4 pm, and could continue until midnight.

"Some storms could be severe, with gusty winds and heavy rain," NWS was reporting Thursday afternoon. Chance of precipitation for late Friday afternoon and into the evening is 60 percent.

While the rain would be welcome, the weather service is only expecting between a tenth and a quarter of an inch for Friday afternoon, and perhaps another tenth to quarter of an inch for the overnight hours, "except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms," the forecast continues.

Saturday and Sunday will vary from sunny, mostly clear, and increasingly cloudy, which means the chance of rain is lessened greatly after Friday. Monday, July 4 is also expected to be mostly sunny during the day, as are Tuesday and Wednesday.

The DEEP encourages residents of Connecticut to protect their families and homes from forest fire by:

*Making a fire safe zone around your house by clearing flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings;

*Pruning away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone (evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly);

*Removing any limbs which overhang the roof or chimney;

*Regularly removing leaves and needles from gutters;

*Not storing firewood within the fire safe zone;

*Using fire resistant roofing materials;

*Making sure firefighters can find and access your home (mark your house and roads clearly and prune away limbs and trees along your driveway which do not allow fire truck access);

*Having an escape plan and practicing it;

*Following state and local open burning laws;

*Staying with outside fires until they are completely safe and dead out; and

*Disposing of wood ashes in a metal bucket, soaking them with water before dumping them.

For those who enjoy the use of Connecticut's parks, forests, and open spaces, CT DEEP reminds all to use fires with caution and follow these recommendations:

*Obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires;

*Keep all flammable objects away from fire;

*Have firefighting tools nearby and handy;

*Carefully dispose of hot charcoal;

*Drown all fires; and

*Extinguish smoking materials with caution.

For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP's Forestry Division at 860-424-3630.

Volunteer firefighters from Hawleyville Fire & Rescue and Newtown Hook & Ladder converged at a brushfire on Mt Pleasant Road May 13, quickly bringing the blaze under control. A passerby called in the fire, which appeared to affect only a small patch of tall dry grass and a few small shrubs near an open field, near the western intersection of Blackman Road. (Bee file photo)
The CT DEEP is asking all state residents and visitors to use caution this Independence Day weekend, as dry conditions have led to an elevated risk for wildfires.
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