AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With little rain having fallen in Maine the past two weeks, fire crews and members of the Maine Forest Service have been busy battling more than 200 wildfires in all corners of the state.
"You can see how dry it is," explained MFS fire prevention specialist, Kent Nelson, as he walked through the woods. "We've got leaf litter from last fall, I mean it is just crunchy, crunchy, so if a ground fire were to come through here, it would very likely spread rapidly into the woods."
The dry conditions have forced the Forest Service to post High to Very Highfire danger warnings for the entire state.
Wildfires, including one in Lewiston on Monday which burned more than 30 acres of land, have already burned more acreage this year than this time last year despite a much later start to the spring. So far, 412 acres of fields and woods have been damaged so far, a total that rises daily.
All of the fires have been started by people, intentionally or unintentionally, with permitted, controlled burns that have gotten out of control or that were not properly extinguished responsible for nearly half of the fires.Nelson says several fires have also been sparked by people dumping their wood stove ashes in the woods.
"We just ask that if people want to clean up their yards and get that brush burned, first of all you have to have a burn permit and you may not get one when the fire danger is this high," stated Nelson, adding, "but if there is any way you can wait until after we get a couple inches of steady rain that would really be the safest thing you could do is to wait till things get moist and green up."