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Massachusetts drought worsens with 97 wildfires seen in August

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Nearly 100 wildfires have been recorded by the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the month of August, and it appears nothing short of a major storm will douse the persistent flames, Chief Fire Forest Warden David Celino said.

Forest fires have been seen at Lynn Woods, in Rockport and down through Norfolk and Bristol counties, but currently, the biggest hazard is at Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, where at least 12 fires are active, Celino said at a Massachusetts Drought Management Task Force meeting.

Ninety-seven wildfires have been reported this month, Celino said, as this summer’s drought continues to worsen. This week’s rain has helped a bit, but something more substantial will be needed to staunch the issue, he said.

“The fire issue is here and it’s with us long-term until we get a season-ending event, which is a tropical storm over several days,” Celino said. “(The rain) positively impacts ignition potential. What it doesn’t affect is ground-fuel burning that’s ongoing.”

Four of the seven regions the task force monitors — Connecticut River Valley and Central, Northeast and Southeast Massachusetts — remain at a “critical” Level 3 drought, and the board voted Tuesday to upgrade two of the other regions — Western Massachusetts and the Islands — to a “significant” Level 2 drought.

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