PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is warning Rhode Islanders of extreme fire danger as the drought that has gripped the state, and now the New England region, continues following months of below-average rainfall and above-average temperatures.
With nine fewer inches of rain this year than last causing extremely dry conditions, DEM is urging residents to take precautions when using charcoal grills and matches while outdoors, disposing of cigarettes, cutting the grass with gasoline-powered mowers, and doing many other things we often take for granted.
"This drought has produced fire conditions that have left fuels readily available to burn," said Olney Knight, DEM's Forest Fire Program Coordinator. "Once started, fires in these conditions are very difficult to bring under control and pose a significant threat to life and property."
DEM asks residents to consider applying the principles of Firewise home maintenance and landscaping to reduce the risk of fire and exposure to their homes and property.
DEM requires residents to check with their local fire department for information regarding all outdoor burning activities and required permitting if still being issued.
DEM asks residents to use extra caution when:
o Throwing lit cigarettes out of car windows – don't be that person
o Using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames while outdoors
o Mowing lawns using a gasoline-powered engine – don't overfill the gas tank and risk a spill
o Cutting or fabricating metal
o Using gas-powered equipment – make sure that spark arrestors have been installed
o Parking in tall grass – don't do it
o Securing towing safety chains and dragging parts
o Using electrical equipment like extension cords – make sure they're in good working condition and rated for the application
For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.