State suspends all open burn permits due to high winds

State officials have suspended all open burning permits in Connecticut for today, April 24, even if a resident has a permit from the local open burning official. Residents are also reminded to be cautious with outdoor cooking fires at this time.

This is due to the heavy winds the region is experiencing Thursday, with wind gusts up to 40 mph possible.

Officials at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said the forest fire danger level is “very high” and the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag fire warning for all of Connecticut today from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Difficult to control fires

Fires will be very difficult to control today. Red Flag warnings are issued when winds will be sustained or there will be frequent gusts above a certain threshold (normally 25 mph).

In addition, relative humidity needs to be below 30% and precipitation for the previous five days has to have been less than a quarter-inch on average statewide.

Winds, humidity mean dry conditions

While parts of Connecticut experienced scattered showers with occasional pockets of moderate but brief rain yesterday, relative humidity in the low teens and strong winds quickly dry residual dead or cured vegetation from the previous winter to create ground conditions very conducive for fire ignition and spread. These daily variations will last until forest under-growth greens during May.

“Residents need to know that any permit to burn brush is not valid when the forest fire danger is rated high, very high, or extreme,” said DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen. “Anyone spotting a forest fire should remain calm and dial 9-1-1 to report the fire as quickly as possible to the local fire department.”