Forest Fires | New Hampshire Public Radio

Forest Fires

Forest Service

Managers in the White Mountain National Forest are planning a series of controlled burns aimed at protecting homes in Conway from the growing risk of climate-drive wildfires. 

The proposal aims to prevent fires in a developed area on the forest boundary, where the pine-driven ecosystem is prone to burning.

Merlene Whiting Pilotte / Courtesy

More than 10 percent of New Hampshire is now in an extreme drought, with Lake Winnipesaukee and other reservoirs at record low levels and an increasing number of water wells running dry.

NH Forest Rangers / Twitter

New Hampshire is taking the rare step of banning most campfires and smoking near public woodlands to prevent forest fires as drought conditions get worse.

The new ban prohibits the burning of debris on public property, as well as most kinds of campfires. Also banned are the smoking of pipes, cigars or cigarettes on or near public woodlands and trails.

Nearly all regions of the three northern New England states are experiencing some level of abnormally dry conditions right now, with some areas in a moderate to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. And that's leading to the potential for wildfires.

Bow Fire Department / Facebook

Update, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Concord fire officials say the Merrimack River island fire was extinguished this afternoon, though "hot spots" may flare up in the dry weather forecast for the coming days. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire’s ongoing drought has worsened again, with severe dryness now spreading into Grafton County and escalating impacts to surface water and agriculture.

At a meeting Thursday, officials said nearly the entire state remains in a drought, with the worst of it stretching from the Seacoast into the lower White Mountains.

U.S. Forest Service

You might see smoke rising or trails blocked off in parts of the White Mountain National Forest over the next six weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service will be setting as many as 20 fires across the park in an effort to keep the forest healthy. Fire management officer Patrick Johnson says the fires' locations depend on what the forest needs every year. 

NH Division of Forests and Lands

Governor Chris Sununu and Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a joint letter to House and Senate leadership Monday, calling on Congress to increase funding for fighting and preventing forest fires.

“This is far from just a ‘Western’ issue,” they wrote, arguing the Forest Service is increasingly allocating its funds to fight fires at the expense of other priorities.

KEN WATSON / KENWATSON.NET

An isolated forest fire in North Woodstock is so stubborn that even this rainy weather is not fully putting it out.

Woodstock Fire Chief John MacKay says the Dilly Cliff fire that was first reported Oct. 3 is contained, but some spots are still smoldering.

"With this rain the last two days I’d say it’s probably 90 percent put out," MacKay said today on NHPR's The Exchange.