Most of Maine under ‘very high’ fire danger

Posted July 23, 2011, at 2:24 p.m.
Last modified July 23, 2011, at 2:48 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The forest fire danger ranking for most of Maine was listed as Class 3, or high, on Thursday but with Friday’s record heat wave, the fire danger was increased to a Class 4, or very high.

The high fire danger means residents and visitors “shouldn’t have any outdoor fires,” David Hilton, radio operator dispatcher for Maine Forest Service, said Saturday.

The forest service dispatched Helitack crews on Saturday to battle a fire in the Downeast community of Marion Township and another to a fire in Woolwich “that rekindled from a fire that happened on Thursday,” he said.

Glenburn Assistant Fire Chief Eric Strout said Saturday morning that “conditions now are extremely dry” and he cautioned people to be careful. Glenburn and six other fire departments fought a wood fire on Friday after a forest service helicopter pilot noticed the blaze.

With the high fire danger, “we shut down all burn permits for the entire weekend,” Strout said.

Most communities are taking the same precautions.

Even a small fire can get out of hand quickly because of all the dry fuel on the ground, he said.

Hilton recommended that people who want to have a campfires do so after 5 p.m. and that water should be readily available to extinguish them, if needed. He also stressed that fires should not be left unattended while burning and should be fully extinguished.

The forest service ranks fire danger on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing low potential for a wildfire and 5 signaling extreme danger.

A very high fire danger rating means fires start easily because of highly combustible dead fuels on the forest floor and “immediately after ignition, spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity,” the Maine Forest Service website states.

The only exceptions to the very high fire danger warnings were in northern Maine, north of Mount Katahdin and Houlton, and portions along the the coast where the risk was ranked at Class 3, or high, Hilton said.

In addition to the fires in Woolwich and Marion Township, which is near Cooper and Pembrooke, others were reported near Patrick Lake in Dennysville, on the Downeast Sunrise Trail in East Machias, on Bell Mountain Road in Edmunds and in a peat bog on Lane Road in Cherryfield.

BDN reporter Sharon Mack contributed to this story

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