Firefighters battled brush fires Monday in Auburn and Greenwood as the Maine Forest Service raised the danger level for wildfires.

In Auburn, firefighters extinguished a brush fire in the woods behind 87 Coachman Ave. The fire scorched about 2 acres before firefighters knocked it down, said Platoon Chief Timothy Allen of the Auburn Fire Department.

Allen said there was no sign of what could have caused it, but neighbors said they saw kids on mountain bikes riding out earlier in the day. “It’s going to go down as ’cause undetermined, possible human element,'” Allen said.

Most of the damage was limited to dead leaves, although a couple of dead trees also ignited.

A small fire burned brush and hay along about 100 feet of rock wall in Greenwood before firefighters put it out.

According to Greenwood Fire Chief James Owens, the cause of that fire also was undetermined. It was Greenwood’s second wildfire of the year, Owens said.

The Maine Forest Service increased the fire danger level to Level 3 – “high fire danger” – across the state Monday because of dry conditions and strong winds.

Kent Nelson, a fire-prevention specialist for the Maine Forest Service, said he was concerned that people may become complacent about fire safety because of the rain last week. Small debris burns are the cause of most wildfires in the spring, Nelson said.

As of Monday morning, there had been 203 wildfires in Maine this year, Nelson said. In those fires, almost 200 acres of Maine fields and forest had been burned.

That’s an average of less than an acre per fire, a figure Nelson attributes to quick response times. However, with no rain expected until this weekend, the danger level may rise to a Level 4 or even 5, at which point a brush fire could spread very quickly.

The danger level is based on the dryness of the forest floor, as well as temperature and wind.


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