By Mike Lynch
Campfires, lightning strikes and power lines caused a spate of wildfires across the Adirondacks over the last week.
Forest rangers responded to 10 fires between Thursday and Monday in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Region 5, which includes eight counties in the Adirondack region.
Most of the fires were at ground level and were quickly controlled by forest rangers, according to the DEC. Four of the fires occurred on Thursday and five burned on Sunday. Two of the Sunday fires were started by campfires in Wilmington.
Eight of the 10 fires covered 4 acres or less. The biggest scorched 29 acres on Thursday in Black Brook. DEC ruled the cause “incendiary,” and did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
A fire in the Town of Duane in Franklin County, caused by a power line, burned 5.6 acres.
Last week after a fire in his town, Keene Fire Chief Jody Whitney told North Country Public Radio that the Adirondacks are vulnerable to fires now because of dry weather and dry brush.
“As fire chief, my advice is not to even burn right now,” Whitney said, “but if you do burn, I would make sure you have plenty of water on hand and you want to dig down into the base of the fire and make sure that you extinguish all the embers.”
The DEC said the biggest cause of recent fires is that people have not been properly putting out their campfires. Two of the fires between Thursday and Monday were listed as being caused by campfires. Two other fires, in Keene and Loon Lake, had unknown causes.
The DEC is asking the public to follow its campfire safety rules. The guidance says people should use campfire rings when possible, have a clearing around campfires and keep fires less than 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. DEC asks that people fully extinguish their fires with water, or dirt if water is unavailable, and never leave a fire unattended.
The DEC’s fire danger map for the Adirondacks showed a moderate rating for the Adirondacks, which is the second-lowest rating, during this period. The map is more of an indicator of fire behavior than fire starts, according to the department.
A moderate rating generally means “fires are not likely to become serious and control is relatively easy.”