Officials Say Vermont’s Forest Fire Risk Low

06/22/10 7:04AM By Patti Daniels

(Host) As wildfires burn in Arizona and in Quebec, a Vermont official says the risk of such fires is relatively low in the state.

Lars Lund is the state forest fire supervisor with the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation. He says Vermont's landscape creates a lower fire risk, whereas other areas have ideal conditions for fires to spread:  

(Lund) "Just continuous pine forests, and the weather patterns that would dry them out. We have a small burning window in the spring, the months of April and May is when we have most of our fires. And usually that's contained to mostly grass or small brush and it doesn't get up into the crowns of the trees and burns over large acres."

(Host) Vermont's biggest fire season was in 1908, when 20,000 acres burned in several fires across the state.  That compares with the ongoing fires in a remote part of Quebec that have so far burned 160,000 acres this spring.

Lund says the development of the town ‘warden system' has greatly reduced Vermont's risk of wildfires. And there have been other advances over the last 100 years:

(Lund) "You know, we've built up our road infrastructure, we've had great advances in the type of fire suppression equipment that's out there. Arial detection - if there's a potential that there's going to be high fire danger in remote areas, the state can put planes up for fire detection there. And certainly early reporting - now, everyone has a cell phone and there's reasonably good cell phone coverage in the state of Vermont. So, things get reported a lot sooner, so the fire doesn't have a chance to get a good head start on folks."

(Host) Lund says Vermont has 13 firefighters who are certified to respond to forest fires in the state, and to be deployed to wild fires in other parts of the northeast.

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