PROVIDENCE - With high temperatures and dry weather conditions forecast for the state over the next week, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is advising residents to use extra caution in or near forested areas impacted by the recent caterpillar infestation; these defoliated areas are at greater risk of wildfires.
Lack of foliage allows sunlight to shine through trees and onto the forest floor, creating fertile ground for a wildfire to ignite when these areas come in contact with flames or embers. As the summer season continues, the public is reminded that any outdoor fire is a potential trigger for a wildfire. People should be cautious not to inadvertently spark a wildfire while cooking out, kindling a campfire, or using fireworks. The following safety tips should be followed to minimize risk:
• Charcoals used for cooking must be cold before being discarded • People who smoke should use ash trays • Dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles should be in good-running condition with mufflers to minimize sparks • People should check with their local fire department to obtain a permit to burn. Fire departments have the authority to deny permits when conditions are too dangerous
People are also reminded of Smokey Bear's basic rules of fire prevention:
• Only you can prevent wildfires • Always be careful with fire • Never play with matches or lighters • Always watch your campfire • Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it
For more fire prevention tips, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM for timely updates.