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In 2020 we experienced challenging wildfire conditions due to prolonged drought which resulted in deep burning fires in remote locations that were difficult to extinguish. These conditions have extended into the 2021 spring wildfire season and recent precipitation has begun to help with mitigating this ongoing situation. Your local fire department and the Division of Forests & Lands work together to protect homes and forests from the effects of wildfires. The statewide system of 16 fire lookout towers continues to operate on high fire danger days. The detection efforts of the fire tower system are supplemented by the NH Civil Air Patrol when the fire danger is especially high. This cooperative effort helps to detect and report fires while they are small so that initial attack suppression forces can respond quickly.

Many homes in New Hampshire are located in the wildland urban interface, which is the area where homes and flammable wildland fuels intermix. Every year New Hampshire sees fires which threaten or destroy structures, a constant reminder that wildfires burn more than just trees. Homeowners should take measures to prevent a wildfire from spreading to their home. Precautions include keeping your roof and gutters clear of leaves and pine needles, and maintaining adequate green space around your home free of flammable materials. Additional information and homeowner recommendations are available at Please help Smokey Bear, your local fire department, and the state’s Forest Rangers by being fire wise and fire safe!

Between COVID-19 and the drought conditions, 2020 was a unique year. The drought conditions led to the need for a Proclamation from Governor Sununu, which banned much of the outdoor burning statewide. This, along with the vigilance of the public, helped to reduce the number of serious fires across New Hampshire. However, the fires which we did have burned deep and proved difficult to extinguish due to the lack of water. While the drought conditions have improved slightly, we expect many areas of the state to still be experiencing abnormally dry and drought conditions throughout the spring and summer of 2021. For this reason, we ask everyone to remember Smokey’s message about personal responsibility and follow his ABC’s: Always Be Careful with fire. If you start a fire, put it out when you are done. “Remember, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires!”

Governor Sununu presenting the 2021 Proclamation for Wildfire Awareness Week

Please remember to contact your local Forest Fire Warden or Fire Department to determine if a fire permit is required before doing ANY outside burning. Under State law (RSA 227-L:17) a fire permit is required for all outside burning, unless the ground is completely covered with snow. Fire permits are also available online in most towns and may be obtained by visiting The burning of household waste is prohibited by the Air Resources Division of the Department of Environmental Services (DES). You are encouraged to contact the local fire department for more information. Safe open burning requires your diligence and responsibility. Thank you for helping us to protect New Hampshire’s forest resources. For more information, please contact the Division of Forests & Lands at (603) 271-2214, or online at For up to date information, follow us on Twitter: @NHForestRangers