Debris left by Hurricane Irene could make controlling wildfires in MD difficult

Debris left by Hurricane Irene could make controlling wildfires in MD difficult

29 February 2012

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USA — Hurricane Irene last summer left a lot of debris in its wake – especially in Maryland’s state forests.  Forest Service officials warn this could pose problems as the state enters the spring brush fire season.  The downed branches, trees and brush could make fighting and controlling wildfires very difficult.  Residents are also warned that as they clean up their properties from the fall and winter that spring is a dangerous time to burn debris because of the risk of sparking a wildfire.


NEWS RELEASE:  Hurricane Damage Is Likely To Complicate Controlling Spring Wildfires

Leonardtown, Md. (February 28, 2012) – Hurricane Irene created a difficult situation for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Service. The Storm ripped through the State’s Forests in September, leaving debris in its wake, especially in Southern Maryland. As the State enters the brush fire season, that storm debris will make it extremely difficult for fire fighters to control wildfires.

“As residents start cleaning their yards for the spring we want to remind everyone how dangerous it is to burn debris,” said Forest Ranger Shannon Wolfe. “Spring is one of the most dangerous times to burn due to dead vegetation left behind from the winter months. Until we reach a point where vegetation is green and full of moisture, outdoor debris burning is a wildfire risk. This year all the trees lying in the woods from the hurricane winds will make wildfires very difficult to get to and extinguish.”

Debris burning is the number one cause of brush and woodland fires in Maryland, coupled with the amount of dry, storm-damaged debris, this could be a dangerous fire season. Fires can destroy woodlands and spread to homes or buildings causing thousands of dollars of property damage. Most importantly, out of control wildfires can jeopardize the lives of residents and fire fighters.

Current DNR Forest Service burning regulations state that residents who burn within 200 feet of a woodland or 200 feet from material that can carry fire to a woodland cannot burn on windy days or between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. They must clear down to dirt 10 feet around the material to be burned and have enough personnel and equipment to prevent the fire from escaping. The person in charge of the fire cannot leave until it is completely out. Additional precautions may be required. DNR requires a permit for burning, which can be obtained by calling DNR Forest Service at 301-880-2745.

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