DEEP talks firework safety in advance of holiday weekend

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reminding locals and visitors to be careful with their pyrotechnics this Fourth of July weekend, given the dry conditions and increased risk of wildfires.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) underscored the currently “High” Forest Fire Danger level, saying “special care should be taken over the holiday weekend with the use of sparklers, fireworks, and other potentially flammable materials.”

DEEP Commissioner Klee noted that the dry conditions are made more dangerous by the recent gypsy moth defoliation, which has left trees more barren, and forest floors more sunlit, creating dryer conditions that allow fires to spread faster. He urges campers to obey local laws, use the stone or metal rings provided at state parks or forests and to keep firefighting tools nearby and handy, and to be sure campfires are doused thoroughly and hot charcoal is disposed of carefully.

Commissioner Klee is hoping for rain.

“While some parts of our state had some rain in recent days, and there is a chance for some showers Friday, the forest fire danger will remain at High or above until we get a good statewide soaking.”

Until then, DEEP has offered some safety tips. Preventing forest fires is as easy as:

  • Making a fire safe zone around your house. Clean flammable vegetation and debris from at least 30 feet around the house and any outbuildings;
  • Pruning away the lower limbs of evergreens that are within the fire safe zone. Evergreens catch fire easily during dry periods and burn quickly;
  • Removing any limbs which overhang the roof or chimney;
  • Regularly removing leaves and needles from gutters;
  • Not storing firewood in the fire safe zone;
  • Using fire resistant roofing materials;
  • Making sure firefighters can find and access your home. Mark your house and roads clearly and prune away limbs and trees along your driveway which do not allow fire truck access;
  • Have an escape plan and practice it;
  • Following state and local open burning laws;
  • Staying with outside fires until they are completely safe and dead out; and
  • Disposing of wood ashes in a metal bucket, soaking them with water before dumping them.

Commissioner Klee reminds residents that because of the “High” risk levels, these at-home tips are only relevant if the home is more than 100 feet from a grassland or woodland. Check the current Forest Fire Danger level here.

Anyone who sees a forest fire should go to the nearest telephone and dial 911 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire department. For more information on fire safety, contact DEEP’s Forestry Division at (860) 424-3630.

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