Maine on ‘red flag warning’ for fire danger until 6 p.m.

Posted May 30, 2010, at 2:46 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

ELLSWORTH — Weather conditions that might be good for tourism might not be optimal for Maine’s woods or for officials concerned with the potential for forest fires.

The dry conditions that have allowed campers to enjoy the Memorial Day holiday weekend in Maine also have prompted Maine Forest Service and the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for all of the state. The warning, issued Sunday morning, is expected to last until 6 p.m. Sunday.

According to Kent Nelson, fire prevention specialist with Maine Forest Service, the recent lack of rain and gusty wind conditions have increased the risk of forest fires in Maine.

“The Maine Forest Service urges all citizens to postpone their outdoor burning (including campfires) until we get significant rainfall,” Nelson indicated in a prepared statement released Sunday.

Nelson said Sunday that the dry conditions coincide with a popular camping holiday.

“Our main concern here is people being careless with campfires,” Nelson said.

Forest fires in Quebec are creating smoky conditions in northern New England, including western Maine. The fires near La Tuque, Quebec, are about 350 to 400 miles from the Maine border and are causing hazy conditions in western Maine that could spread east-ward, Nelson said.

According to information on the Maine Forest Service web-site, five of the seven zones in Maine currently are at “very high” risk for forest fires. Two zones along the coast are only slightly less so with ratings of “high.”

According to preliminary data compiled by National Weather Service, roughly two inches of rain have fallen in the state so far this month, or about half an inch to an inch and a half less than normal.

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