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Connecticut under High Fire Warning from National Weather Service

Gusty winds and dry conditions in Connecticut prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a warning for high fire risk to residents on Thursday, April 24.

The red flag warning affects all of Connecticut, western Massachusetts and other areas of the Northeastern U.S. Residents were cautioned to avoid lighting fires in open spaces throughout the region’s parks and forests. After Thursday evening the warning was set to expire, but residents should remain wary.

Officials from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection noted that any open fires should be carefully extinguished, and that charcoal would need to be disposed of cautiously.

On Thursday, humidity was anticipated to fall as low as 15% with winds gusting up to 40 mph. Following local open fire laws is imperative while these dangerous conditions are present.

The risk of injuries from fires are difficult to ignore. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s statistics on fire injury risk from 2009-2011 show that residential fires are on the rise, as are deaths and injuries caused by them.

A quick look reflects an increase in all three categories each year:

  • 2009 – 357,000 residential fires; 2,210 deaths; 12,140 injuries causing $6.96 billion in property loss
  • 2010 – 364,300 residential fires; 2,330 deaths; 12,910 injuries causing $6.63 billion in property loss
  • 2011 – 365,500 residential fires; 2,240 deaths; 13,400 injuries causing $6.46 billion in property loss

During these years, an average of almost 13,000 Connecticut citizens were injured in fires that very likely could have been prevented had the proper precautions been taken. Many of the fires began with consumer products like candles and ranges.

Cooking equipment was the largest contributing factor in this data, accounting for just over 40% of all residential fires. Second most common factors included heating and cooling equipment, which caused 13.3% of these incidents.

With respect to the first item ignited in the fire, upholstered furniture was involved in the greatest number of deaths annually. Smoking materials caused an average of 450 deaths across all three years.

With these statistics in mind it is crucial that Connecticut residents heed the warnings of the NWS during this week’s gusty, dry conditions.

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