AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's note: NEWS CENTER Maine meteorologist Ryan Breton explains why this time of year is peak wildfire season in Maine.
Citing increased wildfire risk, fire occurrences, and staffing shortages, the Maine Forest Service (MFS) is temporarily suspending online burning permits. Permits are required to burn brush and wood debris outdoors.
MFS Director Patty Cormier is also urging Maine's fire chiefs and town forest fire wardens to use extreme caution or suspend the issuance of written open burning brush permits.
"While we are temporarily suspending Maine's online burning permit systems, we are also going to rely on the experience of our Forest Rangers and our dedicated partners in the municipal fire service to ensure that Maine is protected from this current wildfire threat," Cormier said in a release.
MFS says the suspension of permits will remain in effect until the state sees an adequate level of precipitation.
Maine is currently experiencing a high number of wildfires. MFS says so far this year, Forest Rangers have responded to 712 fires, representing 871 acres, marking the second-highest fire count in 10 years, "and it's only June."
This year there has been a 170% increase in wildfires caused by campfires compared to 2019.
Campfire permits, which are required for some remote campsites in unorganized towns, remain available. MFS reminds everyone to obtain landowner permission and seek campfire permits which are available from MFS. Recreational campfires on one's own property for cooking and warming, unless prohibited by local ordinance, do not require an open burning permit and are not subject to this suspension.
Here are a few campfire safety tips from the MFS:
- Before considering burning, check www.mainefireweather.org for local fire conditions.
- Keep the fire small, not tall. That way, if you have to leave suddenly, it is easy to extinguish.
- The campfire should be at least 50 feet away from any structures and on level ground.
- Do not use accelerants to start your fire.
- Always have plenty of water on hand and tools available to put out the fire.
- When you are done, check the fire several times to ensure it is out.
- Supervise children and pets near the fire and never leave your fire unattended.