The CNMI Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, which usually issues permits to allow households to burn their yard debris, is prepared to revoke fire permits that have already been issued because of the early onset of the dry season in the CNMI.
According to DFEMS Commissioner Dennis Mendiola, since the dry season arrived earlier than usual and is already upon the islands, the department may start revoking fire permits to prevent surges in wildfires.
DFEMS spokesperson Robert Mojica said there is a point on the island when DFEMS revokes burning permits because of how fast wildfires spread during the dry season. However, it depends on how many wildfires occur during the start of the dry season.
Dry season in the CNMI usually occurs in May and June. This year, though, the dry season started in March. Since then, the CNMI has only seen one wildland fire up at the Wireless Ridge on Capital Hill. The area, Mojica said, is prone to forest fires, especially when the dry season hits.
“I believe we’re going into the dry season early. From last year, dry season wasn’t until May but we went into dry season starting March this year. The last wildfire we saw for the year was up on Capitol Hill at the Wireless Ridge,” he said.
Mojica said DFEMS will start campaigning on social media on how to dispose of dead vegetation and debris without burning them in an effort to raise awareness of forest fires. “We’re going to start social media campaigns about how to dispose of dead vegetation around your house like dispose of it properly by bringing it to the dump, or to a safe area to burn,” he said.
Back in 2020, the CNMI saw 15 wildland fires, the most severe one seen up in Wireless Ridge on Capital Hill. In 2019, the CNMI saw 12 wildland fires.