Open Burning Prohibited as Fires Persist in Dry Windham County

Crews worked to contain the brush fire in the Natchaug State Forest in Windham on Thursday, Sept. 17. The fire was contained after burning about 94 acres, according to DEEP. (Courtesy North Windham Fire Department)


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Open burning was barred across the state Tuesday as fires continued to burn in Windham County.

Windham County has been experiencing drought since July, and it’s been the site of several fires in recent weeks. The forest fire danger level for Connecticut was “very high” on Tuesday, the second-highest alert after “extreme.” 

The alert meant no open burning was allowed Tuesday, and the restriction continues as long as the fire danger level remains high, very high or extreme. The alert is updated every morning at 7 a.m.

“With all the recent tree damage and debris, to many it appears to be the perfect time to burn this material. However, with the dry conditions, today’s windy conditions, lack of substantial rain, and the increased ignition source, DEEP wants to remind you to be careful with all outdoor burning,” a Facebook post from the department stated.

A fire around the Potash Brook in the Natchaug State Forest in Windham grew to over 90 acres before local volunteer and state fire crews contained it last Thursday evening. It is still burning, and could be for a while.

Smoke rises through the tree canopy of the Natchaug State Forest in Windham as a brush fire burns below on Thursday, Sept. 17. (Courtesy of Chris Bray) 

“Local residents may still see and smell smoke and may see occasional interior flare-ups from remaining surface fuels, but there is still no threat to the public or any structures at this time,” DEEP Spokesman Will Healey said. “It can take several weeks or even months for forest fires to fully extinguish, and given the very dry conditions we’re experiencing, that could be the case with this particular fire.”

DEEP staff will continue to monitor the fire daily, and if the conditions are right, they’ll burn off fuels remaining in the interior to keep the fire from rekindling when leaves fall.

The department is also monitoring two other fires in the state, both in Windham County. One fire in Thompson burned 8 acres several weeks ago, and reburned about an acre over the weekend, which DEEP staff attributed to fallen pine needles adding fuel, Healey said. 

On Tuesday, winds kicked the Thompson fire up again, causing some more reburning on the interior, he said. There is also a small fire in Killingly that picked up again on Monday, Healey said. There were also small fires that were extinguished in Brooklyn and Chaplin in Windham County last week, according to DEEP.