Warm weather means early wildfire season for Maine forest rangers

Posted March 22, 2012, at 9:03 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The record-high temperatures that have hit the state in recent weeks have created conditions that are keeping state forest rangers and firefighters busy.

On Thursday, the Maine Forest Service found itself dealing with about half a dozen wildfires, including one that is considered suspicious, forest service Lt. Jeff Currier said Thursday evening.

Thursday’s fires were relatively small, burning wooded areas and fields that were 3 to 4 acres in area, Currier said.

Earlier in the day, rangers received reports of fires in Newport and Stetson. As the day unfolded, rangers found themselves putting out fires in Palmyra, Liberty and Township 18 MD and investigating smoke reports in Machias and Trescott, Currier said.

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The beginning of this year’s wildfire season is weeks ahead of normal, Currier said, adding that in most years, the wildfires don’t begin to add up until early to mid-April.

On Thursday, fire danger ratings in Maine stood at moderate to high, with the highest potential in western and central Maine and in the southern coastal area.

Currier said that the fire in Township 18 MD, north of Columbia Falls, is considered suspicious.

“The fire was contained at just over 3 acres by Maine Forest Service crews,” he said. “The fire is still under investigation but it appears that the fire may have been intentionally set. This fire will be patrolled by rangers throughout the night.”

Currier said anyone with information about suspicious fires can call the forest service’s Wildfire Arson Hotline at 800-987-0257.

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