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DEM Warns of Increased Wildfire Danger, Issues Outdoor Fire Ban at State Campgrounds, Parks, Management Areas

PROVIDENCE, RI - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces today that in response to the dangerous risk of wildfires in Rhode Island, it is banning outdoor fires at all State campgrounds, parks, and management areas. This ban, effective starting Saturday, August 20, includes all campfires at designated campground and picnic areas. Campers at State campgrounds and management areas, as well as State park patrons, will be permitted to use portable gas cooking stoves and grills, liquefied or bottled fuels, and propane/liquid-fueled lanterns in designated areas. These prevention measures are in place to reduce the threat of human-caused wildfires that can seriously threaten life and property. DEM will continue to monitor and evaluate conditions to determine when the ban can be lifted.

Rhode Island is in an extreme drought and is witnessing increased wildfires with joint fire response from communities. On Saturday, August 20, DEM's Forest Fire Program will increase fire restrictions to Planning Level Stage IV (PL4). This designation follows the National Fire Danger Rating System, which assesses the potential wildfire risk by considering burning conditions, wildfire activity, and the availability of firefighting resources.

Any outdoor fire is a potential source of wildfire. In 2022 alone, Rhode Island has experienced over 70 reported wildfires, with 42 acres of land burned. People should be cautious not to inadvertently spark a wildfire while cooking outdoors, 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 ashtrays

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

It is important that communities and individual homeowners understand the risks of wildfire and take appropriate steps to protect and maintain to mitigate the impacts of fire in its severity and rate of spread. By staying up to date on DFE's homeowner resources, conditions and exercising caution, we can all mitigate the risk of wildfires.

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

(If permitted) make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it

Green bonds support what we all love about Rhode Island clean blue waters, green spaces, and vibrant communities. If approved by the voters, the proposed 2022 Green Bonds (Question 3) will invest in open space, outdoor recreation, land revitalization, green energy, climate resilience, forest, habitat, wildlife conservation, water quality, and new facilities at Roger Williams Park and Zoo. This includes $3M slated for forest health management and wildlife habitat projects at state management areas. Rhode Island's forests and trees may seem like a green backdrop to our landscape, but they are in fact hard at work generating a wide range of services and values. Forests are a place where humans and native wildlife can live and thrive by providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans. They also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion, purify our air, clean our water, and mitigate climate change.

Keep yourself informed by following Rhode Island Division of Forest Environment, Wildland Fire Control (DFE) for daily conditions updates. For more information on DFE programs and initiatives, visit their website. For information on ways to protect your home from fire, visit www.firewise.org. For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 08-19-2022

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