Red Flag warning issued: Forest fire danger level is high

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today that the Forest Fire Danger Level is HIGH and the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning for all of Connecticut from noon - 8:00 p.m. and as a result all open burning permits are suspended even if a resident has a permit from the local open burning official.  Residents are reminded to be cautious with outdoor cooking fires during this time period.

Fires will be very difficult to control today especially when the winds are gusting up to 30 mph this afternoon. Red Flag warnings are issued when winds will be sustained or there will be frequent gusts above a certain threshold (normally 25 mph).  In addition, relative humidity needs to be below 30% and precipitation for the previous 5 days has to have been less than 1/4-inch on average statewide.

Early spring time weather typically includes daily changes in forest fire danger and can easily catch residents off guard. While few towns experienced scattered showers this morning, low relative humidity and strong winds quickly dry residual dead or cured vegetation from the previous winter to create ground conditions very conducive for fire ignition and spread. These daily variations will last until forest under growth greens during May.

“Residents need to know that any permit to burn brush is not valid when the Forest Fire Danger is rated high, very high, or extreme,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen.  “Anyone spotting a forest fire should remain calm and dial 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire Department.”

DEEP’s Division of Forestry constantly monitors the danger of forest fire to help protect Connecticut's 1.8 million acres of forested land. Forest fire danger levels are classified as low, moderate, high, very high or extreme.

Forest Fire Prevention Tips

DEEP encourages residents of Connecticut to protect their families and homes from forest fire by:

  • Making a fire safe zone around your house. Clean flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings;

  • Pruning away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone. Evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly;

  • Removing any limbs which overhang the roof or chimney;

  • Regularly removing leaves and needles from gutters;

  • Not storing firewood in the fire safe zone;

  • Using fire resistant roofing materials;

  • Making sure firefighters can find and access your home. Mark your house and roads clearly and prune away limbs and trees along your driveway which do not allow fire truck access;

  • Having an escape plan and practicing it;

  • Following state and local open burning laws;

  • Staying with outside fires until they are completely safe and dead out; and

  • Disposing of wood ashes in a metal bucket, soaking them with water before dumping them.

For those who enjoy the use of Connecticut’s parks, forests, and open spaces, use fires with caution and follow these recommendations:

  • Obey local laws regarding open fires, including campfires;

  • Keep all flammable objects away from fire;

  • Have firefighting tools nearby and handy;

  • Carefully dispose of hot charcoal;

  • Drown all fires;

  • Extinguish smoking materials with caution.

For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP’s Forestry Division at (860) 424-3630 .