DANVERS — As the town's fire chief spoke about the danger of brush fires due to the dry weather yesterday morning, firefighters were heading to extinguish one on Colby Road.
The fire was started by a resident whose brush burning had gotten out of control.
Spring is the season when residents get rid of their unwanted tree limbs, leaves and branches with backyard fires. Danvers residents who pull a $10 permit can burn brush until May 1.
However, anyone wishing to conduct open burning must call the Fire Department ahead of time to get permission.
"We haven't allowed burning in the past couple of days," fire Chief Kevin Farrell said.
The National Weather Service yesterday issued a red-flag warning for southeastern New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts until 8 last night. A few brush fires cropped up and were quickly doused yesterday morning and early afternoon. A red-flag warning means weather conditions are conducive to wildfires.
Farrell said the dry weather, coupled with a lack of moisture, dry vegetation and light to moderate winds provided perfect conditions for brush fires.
The region has seen less than a tenth of an inch of rain in the past week, according to the National Weather Service. A lack of snow has also left the ground parched, area fire officials said.
"The elements are perfect for wood fires," said Beverly firefighter Brian Latulippe, who said the city has not had to deal with brush fires. "Not yet," he said.
The National Weather Service forecast called for cooler weather and some showers over the weekend, and cool weather next week, but fire officials said more rain is needed to reduce the risk of brush fires.
Yesterday afternoon around 1:20 p.m., Peabody firefighters put out a small brush fire on Route 1 north. Peabody is also advising residents with permits not to burn brush until the city has some wet weather.
About 10 minutes later, Danvers firefighters were called to put out a small mulch fire at the Market Basket plaza on Endicott Street.
When there is a brush fire in Salem, the No. 1 cause is careless disposal of cigarettes, Deputy fire Chief Gerry Giunta said. It's the main cause for small mulch fires that crop up in shopping plaza parking lots and roadside median strips.
"Knock on wood, we have no brush fires right now," said Middleton fire Capt. Tom Martinuk, the town's fire prevention officer. Middleton's brush fires often crop up in remote woods, making them tough to fight.
The town has shut down open burning due to the red flag warning, Martinuk said. Earlier in the day yesterday, Martinuk had to tell a resident he could not burn brush, and the resident became upset. He said he told the resident: "The state puts out those red flag warnings for a reason."
If the area does not see significant rainfall in the next few weeks, the state may shut down open burning for the rest of the spring, Martinuk said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673 or by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.