With warmer temperatures in the forecast, fire management officials say they expect more brush fires across the region this month. They are also asking the public to be more vigilant. Spring in New England marks the traditional fire season when weather patterns of warmer temperatures, higher winds and low humidity combine with dry foliage, prompting forecasters and fire officials to issue red flag warnings. Add the human factor, and you drastically increase the chance of fires igniting.
“98% of all of our wild land fires in Massachusetts are human-caused”, according to Dave Celino, Chief Forest Fire Warden for Massachusetts. “We do get maybe two or three lightning-strike fires a year. But for the most part they’re human-caused fires, either from escaped campfires or open burning permits or cigarette butts. And in conditions like we’ve seen in the last five days where the fine fuels like grasses and leaf litter are un-shaded, they’re very, very tinder dry and ready to burn.”
Celino says 85 brush fires were reported across the Baystate this past weekend alone, all caused by human activity. Forecasters predict higher humidity and some scattered showers over the next few days could help dampen the potential for fires. But Celino says a high to very high fire danger will persist until grasses, open fields and forests begin to “green up” over the next three to four weeks and create some shade for dry foliage.