April Drought Raises Fire Threat

As the drought continues, park and city officials urge caution with grills and campfires.

In the face of the spring drought and a Maryland state warning, has issued a red flag fire alert and is urging visitors to exercise caution. A city official is also calling for safe practices.

"We're a pretty large forest here, so we'll err on the side of caution for our visitors as well as our community around us," Ranger Kevin Barry said. "When you have dry conditions and the wind picks up, you don't need much of a spark to start a fire."

On Saturday night when the wind did just that, Barry said the park called in staff to go around with campground hosts and ask people to watch their fires.

Safety measures should be taken in other parts of the city as well, according to Lesley Riddle, assistant director of .

Riddle discouraged any open burning. But even when a fire is contained, such as in a grill, she said people should not dump their charcoal or charcoal baguettes on the ground. "Just let them extinguish on the grill," she said.

Barry advised containing the fires in grills by not letting them get too high. Too much wood and the flames start to look like a bonfire. Flames rising two feet above a grill are a problem, but flames about 12-inches high are probably safe, he said.

Burning small pieces of wood is preferable, according to Barry, because it is very difficult when burning a log to actually put it out.

Campfires not properly extinquished are also a concern to Barry. Campfires should be doused with a lot of water, according to Barry, who said if they're still smoking or smoldering, they're still active.

For now Barry is advising caution and hoping for rain.


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