DEM: Lack of snow this winter could lead to uptick in brush fires


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is warning of the dangers this winter’s lack of snow could cause.

Rhode Island is well below average in snowfall for this winter. Since December 2019, just under 12 inches of snow has been recorded. The average by this top of year is typically double that.

“Once the leaves fall off the trees and there is no snow on the ground that allows sunlight to go on the forest floor which dries out the leaf litter, the pine needs or what we refer to as fine flashy fuels,” Rhode Island DEM Forest Ranger Ben Arnold said.

Arnold said without snow, hot embers from a fireplace or cigarette butts that aren’t properly discarded could cause brush fires.

“If you are enjoying these nice sunny days even though it is winter, just don’t be careless when you use fire,” Arnold said.

Arnold said they have already responded to several brush fires this winter.

The DEM is urging homeowners to take precautions and protect themselves against potential brush fires.

“Make sure that your gutters are cleaned out, make sure leaves aren’t up against your house, make sure there aren’t tree limbs overhanging over close proximity to your home,” Arnold said.

DEM’s Forest Fire Program is offering training to volunteer fire departments in Rhode Island.

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