DEM Warns of Elevated Wildfire Hazard, Points Out of doors Hearth Ban at State Campgrounds, Parks, Administration Areas

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PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that it is banning outdoor fires at all state campgrounds, parks and government areas in response to the dangerous risk of wildfires in Rhode Island. This ban, effective Saturday, August 20, includes all campfires at designated campgrounds and picnic areas. Campers in state campgrounds and administrative areas and guests of the state park may use portable gas stoves and grills, liquid or bottled fuel, and propane/liquid fuel lamps in designated areas. These prevention measures are designed to reduce the threat of man-made wildfires, which can seriously threaten life and property. DEM will continue to monitor and assess conditions to determine when the ban can be lifted.

Rhode Island is experiencing an extreme drought and is witnessing increasing wildfires with community firefighting efforts. On Saturday, August 20, DEM’s wildfire program increases fire restrictions to Planning Level IV (PL4). This designation follows the National Fire Danger Rating System, which assesses potential wildfire risk taking into account fire conditions, wildfire activity, and the availability of firefighting supplies.

Any outdoor fire is a potential source of running fires. In 2022 alone, Rhode Island has experienced over 70 reported wildfires that have burned 42 acres of land. People should be careful not to accidentally start a wildfire when cooking outdoors, lighting a campfire, or using firecrackers. The following safety tips should be followed to minimize risk:

• Charcoal used for cooking must be cold before discarding

• Smokers should use ashtrays

• Individuals should check with their local fire department for an incineration permit. Fire departments have the power to refuse permits if conditions are too dangerous

• It is important that communities and individual homeowners understand the risks of wildfires and take appropriate steps to protect and mitigate the impact of fires, both their severity and rate of spread. By keeping up to date with DFE’s resources and terms for homeowners and exercising caution, we can all reduce the risk of wildfires.

People are also reminded of Smokey Bear’s basic fire prevention rules:

• Only you can prevent forest fires

• Always be careful with fire

• Never play with matches or lighters

• Always watch your campfire

• (If allowed) make sure your campfire is completely extinguished before leaving

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

Keep up to date by following the Rhode Island Division of Forest Environment, Wildland Fire Control (DFE) for daily condition updates. For more information on DFE programs and initiatives, visit their website. For information about protecting 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 the latest updates.