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Brush fire season begins in NH

MEREDITH — The snow is gone, the ground is dry and brownish-gray, and the forecast calls for windy, warm days ahead without much rain.

The natives know mud season has morphed into brush fire season.

"It's something we anticipate every year," said Franklin Fire Chief Kevin LaChapelle. "It looks like it will be here this week."

Monday marked the first Class 4 Fire Danger day of this year in southern and central parts of the state, as determined by the state's Division of Forests and Lands.

On a Class 4 day, the fire danger is high and fires can start from several sources, including a discarded cigarette, state officials said. Flames spread rapidly and readily increase in intensity, making them hard to extinguish.

Many towns and cities, including Meredith and Franklin, stopped allowing outside burning Monday, and they don't plan to allow it again anytime soon.

"The ground may still be wet, but the vegetation is dry and it will burn very easily right now, it acts as fuel for the fires," said Meredith Fire Chief Ken Jones.

Jones had his first brush fires of the season on Sunday, when a man was burning some materials outside on Old Center Harbor Road.

"It was about an acre, he was trying to control it with a hose, and it got away from him," Jones said. "It's not a good time to be burning anything, that's why we stopped issuing permits."

LaChapelle said his department had a similar fire recently. A fire started at an outdoor camping area when a camp fire caught on to the dry materials around it, he said.

"There's a lot of dry leaves and twigs around that make for good fuel for a fire," he said. "We need it to 'green up' a little, but until then, people should be careful about burning anything."

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