As we get closer to spring, when many residents in the Berkshires will be seeking a permit to conduct open burning, it’s a good time to start thinking about fire safety. State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey is sending a strong message for those who might be thinking about doing some burning, and warning residents to use caution to help in the prevention of brush fires.

Early spring is often when firefighters in New England are busy fighting brush fires. As the season changes, the winds can be strong and unpredictable... Please conduct open burning safely and watch the wind. Have a permit and to be ready to shut it down quickly if the weather changes. ~ State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey

 

According to a press release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, early spring is usually a busy time for brush fires as people rush to conduct open burning before the season ends on May 1st. Ostroskey warns that it’s also a windy time of the year as the weather pattern changes. He says that when the snow pack has melted and the ground is only just starting to green up, there is plenty of dry vegetation and leaves from last year to serve as tinder. All that combined with low humidity, dry, hot and windy conditions make it perfect for brush fires to start and to get out of control. And brush fires can be difficult for firefighters to contain.

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According to Ostroskey, last April was wet, but May started a 5-month period of unusually dry weather with below average rainfall. As a result, many brush and wildland fires kept firefighters busy across the state.

2020 kept firefighters busy with these types of fires. According to the press release, fire departments in Massachusetts in 2020 reported 5,846 natural vegetation fires, which caused two civilian injuries, 19 firefighter injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of $217,409. This is a 96% increase from the 2,978 incidents reported in 2019, which was an unusually low number of brush fires.

Ostroskey says that 2020 ranks in the top ten years for brush fires. So, if you are planning on doing some open burning, make sure you first have a permit and then take all necessary precautions.

Open Burning season, which traditionally begins in mid-January, ends on May 1st.

You can get more information and prevention tips HERE.

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