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Fire Concerns Prompt Red Flag Warning in Western Mass

(ABC40 File Image)

(ABC40 File Image)

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass.  (WGGB) — Red flag warnings are out for Hampden County… which means the risk of things catching fire is high.

The national weather service issued a red flag warning for Hampden County meaning the conditions – high winds and low humidity – pose a high risk for fires getting out of control.

“Outside burning is prohibited,” warned Lt. Dennis Foley of the West Springfield Fire Department. “If there was to be a fire, people need not to extinguish it themselves because the time that they take trying to get that hose connected to the house and get to the fire, the fire has already grown 2 to 3 times what it was when they left. That time should be spent calling the fire department.”

Foley says these risks are greatest for the 2 to 3 weeks after winter snow has melted…and right before April showers begin. It’s when all of the dry leaves and twigs can help spread fire with the windy conditions…which also marks the start of brush fire season.

“Brush fires can start from any heat source really,” explained Foley. “The simplest one is a discarded cigarette. Someone flips one out the window or throws one off a deck it hits some dry leaves, gets covered it smolders for a bit discarded things in trash, smoldering ashes, 48 to 72 hours. Something as simple as a car being parked on a pile of leaves.”

Foley and his men are preparing for that by switching out fire truck’s hoses specifically for brush fires.

He advises that people should clear out the dry leaves underneath their decks and if they think they’ve dropped something… and don’t hesitate to wet the ground & call their local fire department.

Throughout the summer Lt. Foley says the risks should decrease… tapering off with the first snow.