Remember these safety tips amid high wildfire risk

September 5, 2009

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 5, 2009

State Department of Natural Resources officials urged campers and other forest visitors to be mindful of the danger of wildfires over Labor Day weekend.

Despite small amounts of rain, firefighters have been busy on both sides of the state putting out blazes.

“We want people to be aware that even if we’ve had a few scattered showers, wildfires can still occur because of the very dry landscape,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said in a news release. “We need much more rain than what this weekend will offer to help us with fire season.”

On Monday, DNR officials released a snapshot of the number of wildfires and acres burned on state and private lands protected by the department.

The agency has responded to 841 fires with 12,733 acres burned to date. Thanks to favorable wind conditions, firefighters have kept wildfire damage lower than average, despite the higher-than-usual number of wildfires.

Before heading out for Labor Day festivities, check with local authorities about burn restrictions. Call 800-323-BURN toll-free for daily updates on burn restrictions. DNR also operates a Web site that shows fire danger and burning restrictions by county.

Call 911 to report a wildlife or unattended campfire.

Remember the following tips as you enjoy the long weekend:

  • Not all public lands allow campfires. Where campfires are allowed, they are usually restricted to metal fire rings and must be kept to less than three feet in height and diameter.
  • Given the fire conditions, DNR fire experts are warning people that it can be extremely dangerous to set off leftover fireworks in the forest. In addition to being illegal, the discharge of even a single firework or explosive device in a forest poses a major risk of igniting multiple fires.
  • Motorists are reminded to stay on roadways because hot mufflers and catalytic converters can easily start wildfires. When operating off-road vehicles, stick to designated trails and to examine spark arrestors to be sure they are in proper working order.
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