Firefighters and a Maine Forest Service ranger look over an area charred by a brush fire off Birch Lane in Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday. Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne said getting to the fire was difficult because the area is surrounded by houses but firefighters contained the fire within 10 minutes. Much of Maine is under a red flag warning, meaning that critical fire conditions exist because of dry conditions, low relative humidity and warm temperatures. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Fire departments and forest rangers kept busy Tuesday fighting brush fires that broke out across the state, including one that ignited near a residential neighborhood in Old Orchard Beach.

Wildfires were reported in Old Orchard Beach off Birch Lane, in the Lincoln County town of Jefferson and in the Piscataquis County community of Brownville. The wildfire in Brownville, off High Street, damaged a home. Brush fires also erupted in Lebanon and the town of Bowdoin on Tuesday evening.

The Maine Forest Rangers posted a message on their Facebook page Tuesday morning warning that there was a red flag warning for parts of southern Maine on Tuesday. “The combination of breezy winds gusting to 20 mph and very dry air with relative humidity falling to 20 percent or below is expected to cause critical fire weather conditions today. Dead and dormant vegetation will combine with the dry and windy conditions to create the potential for rapid fire growth,” the post said.

The Old Orchard Beach fire, which was reported around 11 a.m, destroyed about half an acre and burned near homes, but firefighters prevented it from damaging any of the nearby structures, Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne said. The cause remains under investigation.

LaMontagne said the brush fire danger in York County remains high. The chief recommends that residents check with their local fire department before conducting any outside burns.

According to the Maine Forest Service, the fire danger in York, Cumberland, Oxford and Kennebec counties, as well as in the Bangor and Rockland regions, remained “very high” on Tuesday. Very high is defined as fires that start easily from all causes, and immediately after ignition spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity.

The red flag warning was expected to remain in effect through Tuesday evening.


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