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Gov. Charlie Baker activates MA National Guard for wildfire

Members of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 267th Intelligence Squadron traveled from Otis Air National Guard Base, Mass. to Fort Meade, Md. on June 9, 2019. (Tech. Sgt. Thomas Swanson/Massachusetts Air National Guard)
August 19, 2022

Gov. Charlie Baker has activated the National Guard to respond to a wildfire in Rockport, as drought conditions continue to worsen across the Bay State amid an extremely dry summer.

The Massachusetts National Guard members will help put out hotspots within the containment area of the Briarwood Fire, which has been burning for one month across 19 acres.

Baker’s order for the National Guard has freed up 30 specially-trained service personnel to assist local first responders, as the Briarwood Fire continues to smolder above and below ground.

“To protect residents and visitors, state and local officials have established a delineated containment area which members of the National Guard will support as part of the mission,” the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said in a statement.

The Briarwood Fire is one of more than 800 wildfires reported this year in the Bay State. The more than 800 wildfires have burned a combined 1,248 acres, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation Bureau of Forest Fire Control and Forestry.

The “extreme” and “severe” drought conditions across Massachusetts have continued to worsen in the last week, according to Thursday’s update from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The combination of little rain and wicked hot temps has led to a brutal drought this summer.

Nearly 40% of the state is now facing an extreme drought, up from 25% of the state last week. The extreme drought counties include Suffolk County, Norfolk County, Middlesex County, Essex County, and Bristol County.

Meanwhile, almost 95% of Massachusetts is now in a severe drought, a major jump from 55% last week. Unfortunately, not much rain is in the forecast for the coming days.

“In New England, where dryness has been intensifying rapidly, only a few tenths of an inch of rain are forecast in the areas of moderate to extreme drought along and near the I-95 corridor,” the U.S. Drought Monitor wrote in its weekly report.

In light of the drought conditions across the state, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security is urging residents to take precautions around any outdoor activities that increase the risk of brush and forest fires — such as grilling, camping, smoking, and using power equipment that can reach high temperatures, such as lawnmowers and ATVs.


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