Dry conditions can be a fire hazard

The Wilton Fire Department quickly extinguished a fire that broke out in the wood mulch outside Stop & Shop on River Road July 20, a sobering reminder the hot, dry conditions this area has been experiencing can compromise home safety.

The fire was of unknown origin, but Fire Marshal Rocco Grosso says residents who smoke should make sure their cigarettes are completely extinguished in these weather conditions, which are expected to last a few more days at least.

Use an ashtray to grind out a cigarette or cigar and douse the area with water.

“Don’t light campfires when it’s like this,” Grosso said.

If you enjoy a backyard fire pit, make sure the pit is covered with a screen so sparks don’t get out.

Use legal fireworks only with caution.

Home grilling is another concern. Make sure the grill is nowhere near anything dry and flammable, like leaves, Grosso said.

Use a grease trap on the grill, and empty it periodically.

Connecticut traditionally experiences high forest fire danger in the spring from mid-March through May, according to the fire department’s web page. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection 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 at low, moderate, high, very high or extreme. In an average year approximately 500 acres of Connecticut woodland are burned by forest fires.

The DEEP asks that if someone spots a forest fire, immediately call 911 to report it and stay on the telephone until the dispatcher has all the information needed.

This raises the question of open burning. If residents have a permit to burn brush on their property, the permit is not valid if the Forest Fire Danger is rated high, very high or extreme and the person is burning within 100 feet of grassland or woodland.

The level for Monday, July 25, was high.