Due to Drought, Md. Forest Service Urges Caution To Avoid Wildfires - Southern Maryland Headline News

Due to Drought, Md. Forest Service Urges Caution To Avoid Wildfires


Portions of Calvert County, as well as the entire areas of Charles and St. Mary’s Counties are currently experiencing severe drought conditions.

ANNAPOLIS — In light of current drought conditions across the region, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Service today asked citizens to use extreme caution when enjoying Maryland’s outdoors in the days ahead to avoid the risk of wildfire. The DNR is strongly urging homeowners to refrain from any outdoor burning until the state receives significant steady rainfall of one inch or more.

“Open-air burning is the leading cause of wildfires in Maryland,” said Forest Service Director Steve Koehn. “During dry conditions, embers can easily ignite dry leaves or other forest fuels and start a wildfire. While conditions do not warrant a burning ban at this time, DNR has temporarily suspended issuing any new burning permits and will be making a determination in the near future whether to suspend burning permits that have already been issued.”

Rainfall amounts across Maryland have been well below average since spring, with data analysis from the National Drought Mitigation Center showing 97 percent of the State in at least abnormally dry conditions. Thirty-seven percent of the State is in a moderate drought while only 3 percent remains normal. Portions of Washington, Frederick, Montgomery and Calvert Counties, as well as the entire areas of Charles and St. Mary’s Counties are currently experiencing severe drought conditions. Worchester and Somerset Counties have issued local burning restrictions prohibiting any open air burning.

The DNR suggests that citizens observe the following fire protection precautions:

* Do Not Park Vehicles on Dry Grass. The exhaust system on a vehicle can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees. It only takes 500 degrees to start a wildfire in the fire season.

* Store Firewood Away From Your Home. Stack your firewood at least 50 feet away and up-slope from the structure. Maintain a strip at least 20 feet wide around your firewood supply keeping it clear of any combustible material.

* Clean Your Roof. Clean roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid accumulation of leaves, twigs, pine needles and other flammable materials.

* Dispose of Cigarettes Properly. Put out cigarettes, cigars, or pipes only in cleared areas free of vegetation or debris and then place in a disposal receptacle.

* Use approved spark arresters on chain saws, off-road vehicles, and other internal combustion powered equipment. The screen that fits between the exhaust port of the piston and the muffler, helps ensure that sparks generated by vehicles and equipment don't start wildfires.

* Never use fireworks in forested or grassland areas.

The DNR says that further restrictions may need to be put in place if the current dry weather pattern continues.

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