Delaware Forest Service urges common-sense precautions to lessen fire risk
With a National Weather Service red flag warnings in April due to the concurrence of three risk factors for extreme fire - dry fuels caused by insufficient rainfall, gusty winds and low relative humidity - Delaware forestry officials are urging the public to be alert and take common-sense precautions to reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildfires.
The current fire risk is underscored by the large mulch and tire fire at the Port of Wilmington and a small blaze in late March in a wooded area in a manufactured home community near Long Neck in Sussex County. Grass, dry brush and leaves are particularly susceptible, and great care should be taken to minimize the risk of uncontrolled wildfires that can cause property damage, the loss of natural areas and even loss of life.
"Even though Delaware's ban on open burning doesn't take effect until May 1, residents would be well advised to postpone any type of open burning until conditions permit it. Right now, a carelessly discarded cigarette or other small fire could quickly escalate and create a potentially hazardous situation. At this time, everyone should be on the lookout for small fires and promptly notify proper authorities by calling 911," said Henry Poole, who supervises the state's wildland fire program as assistant forestry administrator for the Delaware Forest Service.
The forest service is ready to assist municipalities or agencies that request help. It also offers equipment, personnel, training and financial assistance grants for wildfire management to local fire departments throughout the year.
While the current weather pattern persists, Poole advises that people follow these common-sense precautions: Do not discard cigarettes in open areas or along roadsides. Make sure all cigarettes are extinguished completely. Obey local and state laws or restrictions on open burning. In addition, burning debris such as household trash, fallen leaves or tires is illegal year-round. Avoid burning on dry, windy days or when Fire Weather Watches or Red Flag Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service. Call 911 or a local fire department if a fire gets out of control and becomes a wildfire.