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Rainfall Dampens Fire Chief's Concerns

Barrington Fire Chief Gerald Bessette said reports of near-drought conditions seem misplaced given the recent wet weather, but brush fires are always an issue.

Barrington Fire Chief Gerald Bessette said he is not too concerned about reports of so-called near-drought conditions in Rhode Island, which could spark brush fires like the one almost two weeks on the Swansea-Barrington line.

“It’s not a particular concern,” said Bessette. “I think we’re only a couple of inches short of normal rainfall now.”

"You can always have a brush fire," Bessette said, drought or not. But rains that have soaked the area over the past week or so definitely lower the risk.

Bessette said he did read of some lingering concern about a drought by the executive director of the Bristol County Water Authority, Pamela Marchand, who also serves on the Water Resources Board. See story in the Barrington Times.

Marchand did say over a month ago that the drought steering committee she serves on for the water board was considering issuing a drought advisory to make people aware of the lack of rainfall. But the board wanted to wait for a few more weeks before taking any action.

Bessette said the region has had at least 4 to 6 inches of rainfall recently.

As a firefighter, Bessette said, he pays closer attention to the “red flag” fire danger warnings sent out by the Department of Environmental Management. “Red flags” indicate that people must be cautious when disposing of wood, coal stove, and fireplace ashes.

The National Weather Service issues the warnings in response to very dry weather, gusty northwest winds, and low relative humidity. There has not been a "red flag" sent out in several weeks.

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