PELHAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A red flag warning remains in effect in western Massachusetts as the breezy, dry weather fuels the spread of brush fires in the area.
Statewide, there have been more than 1,000 wildfires so far this year.
Unusually dry conditions were blamed for the 41 wildfires in Massachusetts over the past seven days, 11 of them are still burning, mostly in secluded places in the woods.
“Forty-one fires is not out of the ordinary for us, however, to have that number of fires in typically our wet, humid months of August and September I think is a little out of average for us,” said Dave Celino, Department of Conservation and Recreation chief fire warden.
Celino said the area is in a flash drought.
He said wildfires can spark easily because of super dry fuel conditions, weather, and topography conditions.
This year alone, there have been more than 1,000 wildfires across the state. In 2019, there were just over 250, but in 2018, there were just over 1,000 brush fires for the entire year.
“It’s similar to what we had in 2016,” Celino said. “Except 2020 seemed to bring much dryer air masses for us.”
But the numbers in 2020 could go even higher with leaves falling off trees, making it easier for wildfires to ignite and spread.
“Leaf litter will add to the fuel loading on the surface fuels and dry out, and if you can imagine, if you add just another three inches of leaf litter and fuels to the fuels that’s already there, it just worsens the situation,” he said.
Inside of the fire tower, there are firefighters on the lookout, looking out for clouds of smoke or anything in the environment that they may see and use this to line it up.
They find the location on the map, and after they eyeball it with a compass, they mark it on the map and alert fire stations for early detection. The watchtower is also good for monitoring unreachable fires.
“We had a half-acre fire up here on Minnechaug Mountain in Hampden, so we opted to go outside the box and use a National Guard helicopter to deliver 12,000 gallons yesterday over a four-hour period,” he said.