There is no open burning permitted today and likely none this weekend according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) which issued a VERY HIGH forest fire danger level for today, Friday, May 3.  Any permit to burn brush is not valid when the forest fire danger is rated high, very high, or extreme.

DEEP is urging residents this weekend to be especially careful with outdoor cooking and camping fires. Having a water source and a few hand tools nearby are proven prevention tools that can quickly extinguish any stray embers.

“Connecticut has already had 52 reported human-caused brush fires this year that have burned more than 160 acres and more are being reported every day,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Several of this year’s brush fires have been large by Connecticut standards including one in Roxbury that burned more than 30 acres. There has been little rain lately and continued dry conditions are forecast for the next few days so everyone needs to be extra diligent while they are outside.

“Anyone spotting a forest fire should remain calm and dial 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire department.”

Last month the Wilton Fire Department responded to a a controlled burn that “got out of control,” according to Fire Chief Paul Milositz. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish it before it did any damage.

Forest fire prevention tips

DEEP encourages residents 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, call DEEP’s Forestry Division at 860-424-3630.

Daily forest fire danger information is available at http://www.ct.gov/deep/forestfiredanger.