The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced that it has lifted the ban on outdoor fires at all state campgrounds, parks, and management areas that went into effect on August 19.

In a press release, DEM stresses that although precipitation amounts from recent storms have reduced both the number and risk of wildfires in Rhode Island since Aug. 19, it may need to implement another ban if conditions worsen.

The agency has assessed the fire danger as low in both the state’s districts (district 1 is Providence, Bristol, and Newport counties and district 2 is Kent and Washington counties) and anticipates the lifting of the ban to remain in effect at least through Labor Day, Sept. 5.

“Although weather conditions always are dynamic, Rhode Island currently is in low fire danger and DEM does not anticipate increased fire potential in the next week based on the current forecast,” said Principal Forest Ranger Ben Arnold. “We remind Rhode Islanders, however, that the state still is experiencing an extreme drought and if we see the fire danger rising, we will have to reinstitute the ban to protect life, property, and natural resources.”

Although the ban prohibited open fires, campers at state campgrounds and patrons at state parks were allowed to use portable gas cooking stoves and grills, liquefied or bottled fuels, and propane/liquid-fueled lanterns in designated areas.

Any outdoor fire is a potential source of wildfire. This year, Rhode Island has experienced 76 reported wildfires, with 44.3 acres of land burned. DEM says that people should be cautious not to inadvertently spark a wildfire while cooking outdoors, kindling a campfire, or using fireworks. The following safety tips should be followed to minimize risk:

  • Charcoals used for cooking must be cold before being discarded.
  • People who smoke should use ashtrays.
  • People should check with their local fire department to obtain a permit to burn. Fire departments have the authority to deny permits when conditions are too dangerous.

DEM says that it is important that communities and individual homeowners understand the risks of wildfires, take appropriate steps to prevent accidental wildfires, and lessen their impacts when they occur. By staying up to date on DEM’s homeowner resources, knowing the current weather conditions, and exercising caution, we can all reduce the risk of wildfires. DEM reminds the public of Smokey Bear’s basic rules of fire prevention:

  • Only you can prevent wildfires.
  • Always be careful with fire.
  • Never play with matches or lighters.
  • Always watch your campfire.
  • (If permitted) make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it

Keep yourself informed by following Rhode Island Division of Forest Environment, Wildland Fire Control (DFE) for daily conditions updates. For information on ways to protect your home from fire, visit www.firewise.org. For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.