Late winter & early spring are brush fire season in southern New England

The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal wants the public to know the risks and help cut down on brush fires this year

By: Tim Studebaker

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STOW, MASS. (WLNE) – Brush fire season is upon us here in southern New England.

Peter Ostroskey is the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal.  He says, “Outdoor fires or brush fires, and forest fires in particular, are very labor intensive, and so it’s a huge demand on the resources of a local community.”

Last year in Massachusetts, fueled by the drought, there were 5,846 brush fires.  It ranked among the top 10 worst years for brush fires in the state.  The Fire Marshal is putting out a call to the public, asking them to help reduce the risk this year.

Ostroskey says, “We had some difficult areas where we had to employ aerial operations, water drops.”

Brush fire season peaks in late winter and spring, after the snow melts, and before most plants green up.  Winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation can cause fires to spread out of control quickly, threatening lives, homes, and businesses.

Ostroskey says, “And when you add the threat of a structure, it’s a different mode of firefighting operation, it’s different apparatus, and again it’s an additional resource or resources that are needed to respond to that incident.”

According to the Fire Marshal, the most common causes are: careless disposal of cigarettes or fireplace ash, outdoor grilling accidents, and intentional open burning, like leaf disposal, that grows out of control.

Ostroskey says, “Make sure that any outdoor burning is fully extinguished by applying water, turning that over, applying more water, and staying with it for a period of time.”

He says it’s important to check the weather as well as local laws, and get the proper permits before doing any outdoor burning.  He also says you should call the fire department at the very first sign of trouble.  Don’t wait, thinking you can control or put out a fire yourself.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

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