DNR Urges Citizens to Voluntarily Restrict Open Air Burning Due to Wildfire Danger

Wildfire Danger Remains Extremely High

ANNAPOLIS – Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary C. Ronald Franks is urging citizens to voluntarily restrict all open air burning to reduce the threat of wildfires.

“Dry conditions, high winds and low relative humidity across the state have led to more than double the average number of wildfires statewide for this month, and conditions are not expected to improve immediately,” said Secretary Franks. “In light of this dangerous situation, we are asking citizens to voluntarily refrain from establishing any open fires—including charcoal grills—to protect lives, property and our natural resources.”

The threat of wildfires is so severe that four Maryland counties—Frederick, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester – already have local burning bans in place. Outdoor fire restrictions have also been implemented in the State of Delaware and several Virginia counties.

“While at this time we are asking for voluntary cooperation, we are monitoring the situation daily to determine if formal restrictions may become necessary,” the Secretary continued. “We are encouraging Maryland counties and municipalities to do the same, and to err on the side of prudence and safety when considering implementation of restrictions.”

The Maryland Forest Service has provided the following information regarding the current situation:

* Since March 1, the Forest Service has responded to 287 wildfires, more than double the 20-year average of 130 wildfires for the month.

* There has been a corresponding increase in the size of the fires. While fires normally burn less than one acre per fire at this time of year, the average for the past month has been over two acres.

* There has been an increase in the number of National Weather Service (NWS) Red Flag Warning alerts this month for increased fire danger due to low relative humidity, high winds and low fuel moisture content of forest fuels.

* The state has received less than 25% of the average precipitation for March, with much of the state receiving little or no precipitation with the exception of Garrett County.

* The NWS Climate Prediction Center weather outlook for the next 8 to 14 day period calls for continued below normal precipitation.

“DNR’s Forest Service has responded to nearly 400 fires since January 1, which have burned more than 5,600 acres across Maryland,” said State Fire Supervisor Monte Mitchell.

For additional information and updates please visit http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov.

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