Dry, windy weather prompts Red Flag Warning for western Massachusetts

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Western Massachusetts is under a red flag warning, which means we have to be cautious when it comes to the potential for brush fires.

The good news is that the weather is getting nicer for people to have fun in the sun. However, the bad news is that brush fires can flare up at any time during the warm months. Springfield Fire Captain Drew Piemonte told Western Mass News the current conditions are dry and his department is on standby.

“Right now, we haven’t had a lot of rain and the snowpacks melted, which exposes a lot of the dry vegetation. It’s easily ignitable,” Piemonte explained.

The key words for Tuesday and potentially in the coming days for western Massachusetts are red flag warning. According to First Alert Meteorologist Dan Brown, this kind of warning is not just due to warm weather.

“What happens this time of year is the relative humidities fall off and then you have a gusty breeze with that. That dries out that top layer very quickly and it’s all about the top layer of leaves and brush and fuel, so if any little fire were to start, it could spread quickly with those gusty winds and low relative humidities,” Brown explained.

Right now, the warning spreads across Massachusetts and other parts of the northeast. We have already seen at least one brush fire this week as fire crews battled flames in Brimfield on Monday.

Many, of course, will be looking to spend time this week doing outdoor activities like cooking on the grill, but stay cautious and alert because a tiny spark could be disastrous.

“Controlled burns are legal to do, but on days like today and tomorrow, where the winds are strong and will remain dry, it’s a good idea to put that off until a day that’s not as windy,” Brown noted.

Piemonte also said smoking materials, like cigarettes, can also create a dangerous situation for brush and structures.

“If you’re going to use smoking materials, dispose of it all the way properly every time, especially around porches. The vegetation will accumulate under porches and around areas of the houses and it could smolder for hours before it ignites,” Piemonte explained.

Also, while you are advised to enjoy the nice weather in the coming days, Springfield fire officials remind you to call 911 should you see any flames or unusual smoke in the area.

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