Number of reported wildfires in Maine for 2010 = 558 (10 year average = 595)
Number of acres burned in Maine for 2010 = 352 ( 10 year average = 912)
Three most important wildfire prevention concerns:
Homeowners and camp owners that, for various reasons, do not maintain adequate defensible space between their homes and forested areas. In Maine, 75% of all reported wildfires either threaten, damage or destroy structures.
Reaching the “hard-to-reach” citizens who are careless with their brush pile / debris burns and those who accidentally start machine-caused wildfires. Over the last 5 years, the most common causes for wildfires in Maine are escaped debris burns and machine-caused fires.
Preventing wildfire arson, especially in remote areas where it is difficult to obtain witnesses. Between 2005-2009, Maine averaged over 51 intentionally set wildfires annually.
The Maine Forest Service currently has 57 forest rangers, with varying levels of experience and skills in wildfire prevention. Approximately 10% of their time involves wildfire prevention activities ranging from Smokey Bear events to posting fire prevention signs and conducting fire prevention talks.
With the current economic challenges and requirements to do “more with less,” our goals are to reduce the amount of human caused wildfires and become more efficient with our fire prevention activities. One way we can do this is by directing more fire prevention and media effort towards homeowners who live in the wildland urban interface. In general, this group is involved with debris burns and burning brush, which if left unattended or not properly managed, can escape and become wildfires that threaten structures. In Maine, escaped debris burns make up over 28% of all wildfires.
We have also found that this socio-economic group also is the most likely to get involved and follow our recommendations for maintaining defensible space, solving road access / water issues and modifying their homes and decks to reduce their vulnerability from airborne firebrands.