4.12.14 Brush Fire Risk Rises

Published 04/12 2014 07:57PM

Updated 04/12 2014 08:22PM

It might seem counterintuitive, but this is the time of year when the risk of brush fires increases significantly.

The risk is still fairly low where several inches of snow covers the ground, especially in Eastern Vermont and in the high terrain. Where the snow has melted, around much of the Champlain Valley for example, the risk is higher. In fact, a small brush fire broke out in Colchester this afternoon.

The strong April sun can quickly dry out vegetation this time of year, prior to green-up. Once leaves start coming out, the vegetation holds more moisture and the risk goes down again.

But that doesn't typically happen until May. For that reason, brush fires are most common in Vermont and New York during April and May.

With that in mind, New York bans outdoor brush burning until May 14.

Each year the Empire State averages 135 brush fires, while Vermont averages 172. Most of those burn less than ten acres.

On April 14 the National Weather Service will hold an Open Burning Weather Awareness Campaign. The goal is to inform people about what types of conditions promote dangerous fire conditions (being under high pressure, for example, or having windy conditions).

Prior to doing any outdoor burning, make sure you check in with your local fire department to make sure you have the proper permits, if necessary, and always have a water source nearby in case it grows out of control.

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