PEAKS ISLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Members of the Maine Forest Service will be working side-by-side with Portland fire fighters this week to reduce the risk for wildfires on islands in Casco Bay by chipping brush and educating property owners.
"We've got island communities that have a lot of people living in a wooded area," explained fire protection specialist, Kent Nelson.
"Even though we've had this rain, this stuff is pretty dry," he said as he picked up some dead limbs before stuffing them in to the chipper.
While the vast majority of forest fires in Maine occur in the spring before things turn lush and green, Nelson says the potential is there for large fires, especially on the islands which saw extensive tree damage from the Patriot's Day Storm back in 2007.
"A lot of trees came down, limbs are broken," he stated. "That stuff is on the ground and it is a fire hazard."
The Maine Forest Service wood chipper has traveled to towns across the state as part of the Defensible Space Chipping Program over the past five years, and is used as much as to raise awareness and spark conversations about preventing wildfires, as it has been used to help clean-up brush and debris.
"It is a small program, but it can be very effective in places like this where there are a lot of homes very close together and there is a bunch of brush and debris from past storms," said Nelson. "You want to concentrate on areas near the home, within 30 or 40 feet of the home, that's the area that your most concerned about."
The chip truck will also be making stops on Cushing, Great Diamond, Little Diamond and Cliff Islands later this week.