Drought conditions continue to worsen, causing water supply & wildfire concerns

New London

FRANKLIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Four counties in the state are now in Stage 3 drought conditions. This is causing concerns for farmers as well as for those worried about water supplies and wildfires.

A wildfire in Thompson, which was first identified on July 27 was still smoldering when a fire in North Windham was discovered in mid September. There are still hot spots with that fire which the DEEP, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, says shows how long fire risk can persist.

“That fire was burning I think ten acres a minute. It was crazy, it really was crazy,” said Windham Fire Marshal Michael Lacata.

Related: State officials say four counties now in moderate drought

In all 94 acres burned in North Windham. The extensive damage and the fire itself sparked by the drought conditions, which in parts of the state are extreme. 

“We’re at a rainfall deficit of almost three months in the northern part of the state, and at the shoreline while we’re doing slightly better it’s still going to get worse the next couple of weeks,” said News 8 Meteorologist Sam Kantrow.

Right now the Interagency Drought Workgroup says four counties are in stage 3 or moderate drought conditions.

They are Hartford, New London, Windham, and Tolland, while Middlesex county has now joined Litchfield in a Stage 2 drought.

“What the drought did was that now the marshes were dried up so there really really wasn’t any real good fire breaks within that area, so it just kept traveling and burning traveling and burning,” says Lacata.

Related: Guilford, other CT areas impacted by drought in addition to COVID-19 pandemic

The lack of rain is also causing some communities to put out the call to conserve as water levels drop and it’s creating hardships for farmers.

“Many hayfields and many cornfields field corn dried right up in July and August,” said Charlie Grant, who is the first selectman in Franklin and also a local farmer.

Grant says the dust or dry soil, which you can see at the field he hays on Baltic Road, goes down between eight to ten inches.

Related: Drought leads to call to conserve water for 5 shoreline towns, high fire danger

He says one Norwich farmer, who has 50 acres of sweet corn, lost twenty percent of his crop because of the dry weather.

“Not only drought conditions,” said Grant. “But the wildlife damage he incurred was higher than normal because it’s a source of moisture for the coyotes and the deer. They have no water.”

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