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Gov. Sununu Issues Proclamation Prohibiting Open Fires and Smoking In and Near NH Woodlands

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Gov. Christopher T. Sununu has issued a proclamation that bans both outdoor burning and smoking in and near New Hampshire woodlands statewide due to the extremely high danger of wildfires that threaten the state.

The emergency ban became effective immediately upon his signature and will remain in effect until fire danger conditions change significantly.

The Executive Council has endorsed the proclamation.

“This ban is necessary to protect New Hampshire from the very serious fire danger threat currently affecting our state,” said Chief Steven Sherman of the N.H Forest Protection Bureau. “While the restrictions may be a slight inconvenience to some, we must work together to protect lives, property and our natural resources from the imminent threat of wildfires.

“The persistent and expanding impacts of the drought across New Hampshire, coupled with the fall season, are creating dangerous conditions for wildfires to occur. Fire departments have been fighting remote fires across the region, and with dry conditions and a lack of water, any open flame poses a hazard to our state at this time.”

The Governor’s proclamation bans the following:

  • kindling of open fire, including fires built for camping, the burning of debris, or warming, on all public trails or other public property, excluding public campgrounds; and
  • kindling of Category 3 fires; a fire greater than 4 feet in diameter or a fire not contained within a ring of fire resistive material; and
  • smoking a pipe, cigar and/or cigarette outdoors in or near public woodlands or on public trails; and
  • kindling of Category 1 & 2 “campfires”; those not contained within a ring of fire resistive material or in a portable fireplace.

The proclamation does not ban the use of propane or liquid-fueled grills or camping stoves.

An infraction of the burning ban is a violation level offense which may result in a warning, violation, or administrative summons with fine amounts from $124 to $1,000. In addition, anyone responsible for starting a wildfire is liable for the cost of suppressing the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service has additional restrictions on national forest lands. Citizens and visitors should contact the White Mountain National Forest Headquarters in Campton for additional information.

New Hampshire’s Forest Protection Bureau is responsible for protecting the state’s more than 4.5 million acres of both public and private forestlands from threats posed by wildland fire and forest-related crimes.

Protection from wildland fires is accomplished through a system of forest fire lookout towers, aerial surveillance, forest fire wardens, local fire departments, and forest rangers working cooperatively to enforce fire protection laws and provide assistance with incident management and wildfire suppression.

On average, New Hampshire experiences about 250 wildland fires each year, which burn an average of 250 acres. Another 200-300 illegal non-permitted fires occur annually that are extinguished before they can become a wildfire.

Part of the N.H. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Division of Forests and Lands protects and promotes the value provided by trees, forests, and natural communities. For more information about the Division of Forests and Lands, visit nh.gov/nhdfl or call 603-271-2214.

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