AP NEWS

Forest rangers: Rainy April means fewer wildfires

May 4, 2019

All that rainy weather in April that left people wishing for a few consecutive days of sunlight has a silver lining: There have been fewer forest fires this spring in northern New England.

The miserable weather served to reduce fire danger across the region.

In April, there was a trace or more of rain on 20 days in Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vermont; and 23 days in Concord, New Hampshire, according to the National Weather Service. All were above normal for rainfall for the month.

“We are always willing to accept the assistance from Mother Nature when it comes to wildfire prevention,” said Capt. Douglas Miner, a forest ranger in New Hampshire.

More than 40 forest fires have destroyed a little more than 30 acres this spring in Maine, but that’s lower than normal for this time of the year, said Maine Forest Ranger spokesman Kent Nelson.

In New Hampshire, there have been a couple of dozen forest fires burning less than 5 acres, Miner said. Likewise, the forest fire danger has been low in Vermont, said Michael Snyder, commissioner of Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation.

But officials caution the fire season isn’t over and warn that people shouldn’t be complacent about fire prevention.

It will be several more weeks before vegetation turns green, reducing the fire danger, and there’s still a lot of dead grass and brush that can easily ignite despite recent rain, Nelson said.

And things can change swiftly with a couple of days of drier weather this weekend.

“We can quickly transition from flooding to significant wildfire activity within a matter of a week given the changing weather conditions in New England,” Miner said.