RUMFORD — Wildfire season has arrived in Western Maine and fire officials are getting the word out.

State forest rangers responded this week to wildfires in Porter and Newfield in southwest Maine, and in Deer Isle off the midcoast. On Thursday afternoon, rangers were sent to a wildfire in Gouldsboro in Hancock County.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Gray tweeted on Twitter that Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. would be a red flag warning due to gusting winds, low relative humidity and higher temperatures, Kent Nelson, fire prevention specialist with the Maine Forest Service, said Thursday afternoon in Bangor.

The Maine Forest Service also listed Wednesday as an extreme fire danger day.  

For Thursday, however, the forest service downgraded the day’s rating to high danger.

The Rumford Fire Department won’t change its stance during forest fire season “until the vegetation greens up,” Chief Bob Chase said Thursday morning. “We are taking the stance that a higher-than-normal fire danger exists until things green up,” he said.


Maine fire danger ratings are based on daily factors such as humidity, wind and the moisture of fuel content, such as leaf litter, grasses and rotting or punky wood, he said.

People may get a permit to have a campfire if they got to the station, leave their signature and listen to a firefighter about fire dangers. Then, they can call the department to ask for to have a campfire, Chase said.

“We reserve the right to tell them it’s too dry for campfires,” he said.

To get a burning permit, people must go to the fire station and request it. They will have a talk with a firefighter about the dangers of burning brush or dead grass on lawns in the spring.

Dixfield Fire Co. Chief Scott Dennett said Thursday afternoon that his department will not issue outdoor burning permits until the vegetation greens up. When they do issue permits, they don’t allow any burning until after 5 p.m. when winds usually die down.

“With the dry, windy conditions we’re having, it definitely makes for an increased fire hazard,” Dennett said. “Outdoor burning requires a permit unless you’re just making a warming fire or a cook fire. For example, if you’re toasting marshmallows, the fire has to be contained in a fireplace.”

Chase said a lot of people don’t understand that even though they can walk across their wet backyard, that doesn’t mean they can start burning brush. He said the grass is dry above the moist soil and fire can easily spread through tall grass even in swampy areas.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.