You've probably seen the signs at fire stations all across Maine. Smokey Bear saying 'Only you can prevent forest fires' with a sign indicating what today's fire danger is. Recently, after all the rain we've had, the danger was high. That left a lot of people wondering how that was even possible.

First of all, what do the fire danger levels mean? Then National Fire Danger Rating System has been in place for over 50 years to provide a guide to the threat level of a fire igniting and spreading with the use of 5 different levels.

  1. Low. Fuels do not ignite readily from small firebrands. Fires in open cured grassland may burn freely a few hours after rain, but woods fires spread slowly by creeping or smoldering, and burn in irregular fingers. The color code for Low is green
  2. Moderate. Fires can start from most accidental causes, but with the exception of lightning fires in some areas, the number of starts is generally low. Fires are not likely to become serious, and control is relatively easy. The color code for Moderate is blue.
  3. High. All fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended brush and campfires are likely to escape. Fires may become serious and their control difficult, unless they are hit hard and fast while small. The color code for High is yellow.
  4. Very High. Fires start easily from all causes, and immediately after ignition, spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. Direct attack at the head of such fires is rarely possible after they have been burning more than a few minutes.  The color code for Very High is orange.
  5. Extreme. Fires under extreme conditions start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. Development into high-intensity burning will usually be faster and occur from smaller fires than in the very high danger class. Under these conditions, the only effective and safe control action is on the flanks until the weather changes or the fuel supply lessens. The color code for Extreme is red.

So why after all the rain we had did we have a high fire danger causing wildfires in Maine? According to this video from the Maine Forest Rangers, fuel, such as dead wood and brush, dries out a lot more quickly than you might think.



So if you have any campfires going this weekend, make sure you extinguish them thoroughly when you are done because things might be a lot drier than you think. If you need to know where to find the current fire danger in Maine, hit the link below.