Drought worsens wildfire risk across state

Aug 28, 2022

The state’s office of energy and environmental affairs is reminding residents of the increased risk of spreading wildland fires because of the ongoing drought.

In an Aug. 24 announcement, the office said that there were more than 12 active wildfires across the state, requiring daily action and monitoring. This year’s fire season was extended because of the abnormally dry conditions.

Since the fire season began, the office said, more than 840 wildfires have burned about 1,432 acres of land across the state.

Fires have overtaken several areas of the state, like brush fires in Natick and Lynn and a monthlong blaze in Rockport.

The public is asked to be extremely cautious when using grills or open flames and to make sure fires are entirely extinguished when done.

The Southeast region of the state, which includes Wareham, is still under classified as a Level 3-Critical Drought as of Aug. 24.

“Massachusetts continues to experience drought conditions in all regions of the state, which is not only depleting public water supplies, but is also elevating the risk of wildland fires,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card in the press release. “It is critical that we all practice water conservation methods and adhere to local requirements to decrease the stress on our water systems and ensure essential needs, such as drinking water, habitats and fire suppression, are being met.”

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency acting director Dawn Brantley said the drought conditions can be seen across the state, from the wildfires to drying riverbeds and wells.

“The recent rains help but won’t end the drought,” Brantley said in the release, “so it is more important than ever to prevent wildfires and for residents to conserve water in our day-to-day activities.”

From Aug. 1 to Aug. 22, rainfall ranged mostly between 0.5 inch to 1 inch across the state, which is below average for the month of August.