Framingham Online News

Litter Layer Fire Danger

April 3, 2010 (6:53 pm EST)
Filed under: Home & Garden by Randy Harris
Framingham, MA - spring litter layer, trees
The sun shines through the trees.

Framingham, MA - The litter layer refers to the layer of dead leaves, twigs, and other organic material that litters the ground in wooded areas. Many people don't realize just how much of a fire hazard this material poses in early spring.

With no leaves on the trees, the full heat of the early spring sun makes it's way through the trees.  Although the ground may still be wet from snow melt and spring rains, the topmost layer of organic material quickly dries posing a fire threat in and near wooded areas.

Many residential neighborhoods in Framingham are heavily wooded.  Over the winter, leaves, twigs and other materials may have fallen from trees or been blown from the surrounding area and collected in corners of flower beds, along fences, or up against the side of a building.

Even small amounts of leaves and other dry material can catch fire easily.   When larger amounts of organic debris are allowed to pile up,  spontaneous combustion may occur.  In addition to the sun's heat, organic materials generate a great deal of heat as they decompose -- compost piles, piles of bark mulch and other garden material should be checked and turned if needed.

In populated areas, the  #1 cause of litter layer related fires are carelessly tossed lit cigarettes.  Many people who do smoke now either choose to, or have to smoke outside.   Smokers need to take extra special care at this time of year to be sure all smoking materials are properly extinguished.

The spring litter layer fire season ranges from the first hot days of spring until the trees are fully covered with leaves.

It goes without saying that smokers should never throw a lit cigarette out a car window, (or drop one on the ground), but at this time of year, the likelihood that it could cause a fire are much greater than most other times of the year.

photo - litter layer, leaves, cigarette, fire hazard, Framingham, MA (USA) Spring, 2010
Carelessley tossed cigarette could ignite leaf litter.

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