SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — As an extreme drought grips the region, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) continues to restrict the use of campfires.
The drought increases the risk of brush fires, which led the DEM to ban all outdoor burning at state campgrounds and parks.
“When we get into this level of drought, fires are burning deep into the ground and are becoming very difficult for fire departments to put out,” Principal Forest Ranger Ben Arnold said.
The length of the campfire ban will depend on the weather, according to the DEM. Southern New England saw showers Monday, but the agency said much more rain is needed to reverse the drought conditions.
“While this rain should quiet things down for a couple of days, it all depends on the amount we get,” Arnold added.
The DEM has responded to about 70 wild land fires this year. Last week, crews worked to put out a brush fire that burned more than eight acres in Burrillville. The fire was caused by an unattended campfire.
Rhode Island has not experienced a drought this extreme in more than two decades.