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Fire Chief: Dangerous Year for Brush Fires

Burlington Fire Chief Steve Yetman said fallen branches and little precipitation have created good conditions for fires.

As reported on Burlington Patch yesterday, the National Weather Service had put the town and much of southern New England under a caused by wind and dry weather. That warning was updated yesterday afternoon and is still in effect today. The National Weather Service issued a and with only a chance of showers predicted for this week conditions may not improve anytime soon.

In fact, Burlington Fire Department Chief Steve Yetman said this year has "one of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen for the potential of brush fires."

Yetman explained and the Halloween snow storm last year left a lot of downed trees, tree branches and dead brush that is now lying around. That combined with the small amount of snow the region received this winter and the little rain so far this spring have created conditions where brush fires could spread wide and do so rapidly.

"The conditions here are incredible," he said. "It's so dry and there is really no snow pack and very little rain." 

Yetman said most towns in Massachusetts, Burlington included, have restrictions on outdoor burning. In Burlington, he explained, anyone looking to engage in outdoor burning must first come to the Fire Department to apply for a permit, which comes with a fee and must first be approved by the fire department after a site survey.

Open burning is only allowed from Jan. 15 to May 1, Yetman said, but added that daily conditions determine whether burning will be allowed on any given day within that time frame. Before burning, a permit-holder must first call the department that day to check on conditions before setting anything ablaze.

Finally, though it is always dangerous, Yetman said the current conditions make the chance of starting an accidental fire by throwing a cigarette or cigar on the ground much higher. He said throwing cigarettes on the ground is illegal and can come with a $100 fine.

"It's a common practice, but don't do it at any time," he said.

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