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Wild fires on record pace in Maine

As of Monday morning the Maine Forest Service had responded to 188 fires so far this year.
Forest Service issues safety advice.
Forest Service issues safety advice.(WABI)
Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 3:53 PM EDT
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OLD TOWN, Maine (WABI) - A dry winter and spring has led to dangerous conditions for forest fires across Maine.

TV5 spoke with a ranger today about what they are dealing with and what you need to know.

“We’re ahead of the fires from last year and last year we had a record year.”

As of Monday morning Ben Goodwin and his fellow members of the Maine Forest Service had responded to 188 fires so far this year.

“We’ve had some structure damage and we even lost some houses,” said Goodwin. “When you’re having those fires this time of year you really want to be cautious. Make sure you follow that permit criteria. Make sure it doesn’t escape and make sure it’s out when you leave.”

More than half of the fires they respond to started in someone’s yard.

“I think it’s around 60 to 65% so far have been debris burns we call them,” he said. “Somebody has had a campfire or a brushfire in their backyard and it just escaped from them. Those are the ones this season that we’ve had somebody lose their house or other structures have gotten burnt down when they are just trying to clean up their yard with a small fire and it gets away from them.”

So what do you need to do.

“I think the biggest thing is you got to get a permit first so the town knows you’re having a fire in the state knows you’re having a fire,” he said. “Also follow the criteria on the permit. You need to have a charged hose and some extra people there helping you out with the fire. Having hand tools always helps and keep the fire small. You don’t wanna great big fire.”

Just because you have the permit - doesn’t mean you should use it.

“If you do have that permit you’re still liable if that fire escapes from where you’re having that fire,” Goodwin said. “So, if you do have the permit and it’s a windy day and you feel you can’t burn, just don’t burn that day. You’ve got to make that personal decision. And you can always get another permit for the next day.”

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