January 21, 2018
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Forester rangers encourage caution when burning outdoor fires

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AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Forest Rangers are urging people to exercise caution with outdoor fires. Spring conditions have resulted in nearly a dozen wildfires statewide. The largest wildfire was 4 acres and occurred in Clinton on March 31. It was caused by an escaped debris burn.

“Spring wildfire season has already started, and the recent winds have dried the fine fuels and grasses,” said Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). “Our Forest Rangers are actively reminding people to be careful with all outdoor fires.”

This is the time of year that people are anxious to clean up fallen limbs and branches in their yards and want to burn their brush piles. During 2012, fires from machine use and escaped brush piles were the most common cause of wildfires. People intending to burn brush should obtain a burn permit from their local fire department or, if they intend to burn in an unorganized territory, from the Maine Forest Service.

“Maine’s Forest Rangers are vigilant in helping prevent and protect us from forest fires,” said Gov. Paul R. LePage in a press release. “The health of our forest resources is extremely important to our economy and the vitality of our way of life. But we want to make sure we keep all Mainers safe during wildfire season.”

Yesterday, to mark the beginning of wildfire season, the cover was taken off of the life-sized Smokey Bear statue at the Maine Information Center in Kittery (mile 4 of the interstate, northbound). The fire prevention bear statue was installed last summer (see attached photo with Commissioner Whitcomb) to remind residents and visitors of Smokey’s message:  “Only you can prevent wildfires.”

In certain areas, the Maine Forest Service online burn permit system is available, and burn permits can be purchased for a minimal fee at www.maineburnpermit.com. For more information on how to burn safely, please contact your local forest ranger at 1-800-750-9777 or visit http://www.maineforestservice.gov

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Forest Service, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf