NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Smoke from more than a hundred Canadian wildfires has led to dangerous air quality levels in Connecticut, sepia-toned skies and delayed outdoor events — but how much is the state at risk for its own forest fires this summer?
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection rated Thursday’s forest fire danger level at “high” overall. When broken down by county, Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, New London and Hartford counties were ranked in the high category, while Litchfield, Tolland and Windham counties were considered to be at moderate risk.
During a “high” alert, people with open burning permits are not allowed to use them if they plan to burn within 100 feet of grassland or wetland.
Threats are classified as low, moderate, high, very high or extreme. The state typically is high-risk for forest fires from mid-March until May, according to DEEP.
The summer fire season runs from the middle of May through September. Drought is considered a critical factor in the wildfire danger. Due to growing vegetation, fires will burner slower, but deeper into the ground. Because the fire burns tree roots, the blazes are more difficult to put out.
About 500 acres of forest are burned each year from wildfires, according to the agency.
Drought levels varied throughout the state this week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Thursday, the shoreline was ranked as “abnormally dry,” with the classification extending to 23.2% of the state.