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Elevated Risk of Wildfires in Maryland

Firefighters Spent Weekend Battling Blazes

img_0437With this fall’s high winds and dry foliage, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources advises citizens to use caution in outdoor fire activities and postpone unnecessary open-air burnings. Wildfires occur in every month in Maryland but generally peak in the spring and fall.

Firefighters spent hours battling a 7-acre blaze Sunday just west of Thurmont in Frederick County. A 30-acre wildfire occurred near Elkton in Cecil County Saturday and firefighters and Maryland Forest Service staff suppressed a 10-acre fire Sunday near Ripley in Charles County on the Myrtle Grove Wildlife Management Area. Staff has also been on scene of a 5-acre fire near Woodmont Road, west of Hancock in Washington County.

“Heavy winds combined with dead, dry leaves, serve as prime conditions for a small, contained fire to quickly transform into a large inferno that threatens lives, property and our shared natural resources,” said State Fire Supervisor Monte R. Mitchell. “We urge residents to take common-sense precautions to prevent fires, including keeping areas clear of dead debris, leaves and vegetation.”
Outdoor debris burning remains the leading cause of wildfires in the state, accounting for 30 percent of incidents. While outdoor burning is legal in most areas, the department strongly recommends safer and more environmentally-friendly alternatives such as composting or mulching. All outdoor burning should be postponed until after a significant rainfall and – even then – should only occur on low fire danger days in accordance with the Open Air Burning Regulations.

In an average year, the Maryland Forest Service responds to 500 wildfires, which burn more than 4,000 acres of land. To learn more about wildfire safety, please visit Firewise Maryland.