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Dry streak fuels brush fires - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Dry streak fuels brush fires

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COLCHESTER, Vt. -

Lately, fiery scenes have been fairly frequent.

"The temperatures have been warm and dry, we haven't had any rain for almost two weeks and that combination really dries out the forest floor," said Steven Sinclair of the Vt. Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

This makes for a high fire danger. Brush fires have been commonplace because of the dry weather as of late, and it's putting a burden on local fire departments.

"You're taking a dozen, 15 or more people on one brush fire and it leaves the rest of the community vulnerable for other calls that come in," said Charles Cole, the Essex fire warden.

Even though firefighters can often control a brush fire in a short time, it can take hours to completely extinguish the burning.

"There's a lot of peat moss built up from all of the leaves that have degraded, so the fires, when they start, they go underground, and it's very labor intensive to get down, dig around it, so that you can make sure it's out," Cole explained.

While we have seen numerous brush fires, experts tell us some factors are actually working in our favor.

"With high winds I think we would have seen exponentially more forest fires than we have so far. But the other thing in our favor is the forecast for rain and the fact that things are greening up," Sinclair said.

The new leaves and grass have a high moisture content, which slightly reduces fire danger, but they can also act as a temptation.

"The hard part is that a lot of homeowners see green grass in their backyard, wanna have a small cooking fire, just want to enjoy a Friday or Saturday night," Cole said.

Residents are not allowed to do any burning right now.

"All of the surrounding communities that I know of, Winooski, Colchester, Milton, certainly in Essex, we have a burn ban," Cole said.

And the burn ban could be in place for some time to come.

"Just because it might rain tomorrow or the next day doesn't mean the burn ban will necessarily be lifted," Cole said.

The bottom line is that the weather has been very dry, and it's going to take a good, soaking rain to significantly reduce the fire danger. Thankfully, some showery weather will return by the end of the week.

You could face a fine if you are caught burning without a permit.

Officials also remind smokers not to throw cigarettes out the window, because they can spark brush fires.

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