ANNAPOLIS—Continuing dry conditions across the State have led to an increase in the number of wildfire occurrences and a higher risk of fire danger. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging citizens to use caution when participating in any outdoor activity that could spark a wildfire and recommends that all open-air burning be postponed at this time.
"Currently, the combination of warm temperatures, low humidity, high winds and dry forests have caused many wildfires to quickly burn out of control," said DNR Fire Supervisor Monte Mitchell. "Elevated fire conditions in Maryland have been in effect for more than a week and are expected to continue through the weekend."
Outdoor burning remains the leading cause of wildfires in Maryland, accounting for more than 30 percent of incidents. Other causes include arson, children playing with fire and equipment use. Lightning is the only natural source of fire ignition, but accounts for less than 2 percent of wildfire starts in Maryland.
The Department recommends all outdoor burning be postponed until after a significant rainfall of at least one inch has occurred. Even then, it should only occur on low fire danger days in accordance with DNR's Open Air Burning Regulations for all activities in or near woodlands, located at dnr.state.md.us/forests/fire/firenotes.asp.
Homeowners also have a responsibility to ensure they are prepared for a wildfire. Creating an area of clear and open space of at least 30 feet surrounding the home and outbuildings serves as a safety zone around the structures. Within this space, plants should be controlled and the area should be free of dead debris, leaves and flammable vegetation to prevent a wildfire from spreading from the forest to the structure. Maintaining a green space landscaped with fire resistant vegetation improves the safety zone. All households should also prepare a disaster plan. More information on wildland fire management is available at dnr.state.md.us/forests/wfm.asp.