Drought Conditions Cause Multiple Wildfires


A photo of the wildfire in the Desert Natural Area Conservation Land

Massachusetts has faced a record-breaking drought this year. Especially in August, the State had a small amount of precipitation, causing drought conditions to worsen. According to data collected by Mass.gov on the drought statuses, all of Massachusetts faced a significant drought, and almost all of the State was in a critical drought, which included Middlesex County. Not only did this cause the State to be mindful of preserving the amount of water being used, but the drought also caused an increased risk in wildfires. 

Massachusetts typically has around 50 wildfires or fewer in August. However, due to the drought, there were over 100 wildfires this year. These wildfires raged across the State in many communities, including along the lines of Sudbury, Marlborough, and Hudson. 

Photo courtesy of Mass.gov

On Friday, August 19, 2022, the Sudbury, Hudson, and Marlborough Fire Departments along with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, responded to reports of smoke along Concord Road, near Mosher Lane. These departments found that several acres of the Desert Natural Area Conservation Land, also known as “The Desert”,  were burning about a mile in from the road. Because of the severe drought, the brush fire was spreading quickly from the dry environment. 

On Sunday, August 21, 2022 , the Marlborough Fire Department posted on Facebook that “two task forces were immediately requested from Fire District 14 to assist with the fire.” During the weekend, over a dozen agencies assisted with the brush fire. In addition, the Incident Rehabilitation unit and ATV support unit from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services came to the brush fire. “In total, eight task forces and strike teams from throughout the State were called in to assist. We received assistance from a total of 50 communities.” The brush fire was fully contained, and 25 acres had burned. The fire crews remained cautious, though, due to concerns of underground burning in the roots of the trees. 

Currently, much of Massachusetts remains in a drought, but is improving. The State received an increase in precipitation in the month of September compared to August, which has improved the drought conditions.

Photo courtesy of Mass.gov

Conserving water is necessary in preserving our environment and preventing even more damage. Mass.gov reminds residents that it is important to follow the recommendations from the Executive Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). According to Mass.gov, “EEA urges residents and businesses to continue to be extremely mindful of their overall water use, select only native and drought resistant plants for any new plantings, and follow outdoor WATERING RESTRICTIONS for non-essential uses.”