Red Flag Warning issued for western Massachusetts

Emma McCorkindale and Duncan MacLean

2 weeks ago

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday for favorable conditions to support brush fire activity.

A Fire Weather Watch is also in effect for all of western Massachusetts through Wednesday evening for the increased risk of brush fire activity. A red flag warning is the highest level of caution issued by the national weather service and is issued when dry conditions meet high wind speeds.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are occurring, any fires that start may spread rapidly and become difficult to extinguish.

Dry weather and gusty winds will result in potentially critical fire weather conditions. Tuesday will be partly to mostly sunny, with a dry wind from the west. Fire danger will be high, so try not to burn outdoors and be responsible with smoking materials.

It will be the warmest day of the week with high temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s. Tuesday night will be partly to mostly cloudy with lows in the 40s.

The warning is in effect for the entire state, except the Cape and islands. It also includes all of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Northern New England remains under a fire watch, one level of severity below where we are.

The open burning season ended in Massachusetts on May 1st, but outdoor fires, in general, are discouraged on Tuesday, even when contained to a fire circle or fire pit. The same goes for grilling, extreme caution is advised.

Hadley Fire Chief Michael Spanknebel told 22News that brush fires can start from something as simple as flicking a cigarette out of the car and not making sure that the fire is out. He says the fire department responded to many calls regarding fires in the mulch beds near Hampshire Mall. He adds that people hold off on outside fires because they can spread quickly in these weather conditions.

“Unless you really need to, just cook on your BBQ grill. If you can, keep the fire pits off, just don’t be burning your fire pits right now. If you are going to do it, just make sure you have a water source… a garden hose, five gallon bucket of water and make sure somebody is in constant attendance,” said Chief Spanknebel.

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