Fall wild­fire sea­son be­gins this week­end

Vir­gini­ans urged to take cau­tion in fall weather

The Progress-Index - - LOCAL - Con­trib­uted Re­port

CHARLOTTESVILLE - Fall wild­fire sea­son in Vir­ginia be­gins this Sun­day, Oct. 15, and runs through Nov. 30. Res­i­dents are be­ing asked to be ex­tra care­ful with any­thing (matches, camp­fires, bon­fires, me­chan­i­cal equip­ment, etc.) that could cause a wild­fire dur­ing this time.

Hot, dry and windy con­di­tions have fu­eled a num­ber of wild­fires that have wreaked havoc in Cal­i­for­nia this week, and the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Forestry has all of its emer­gency re­sponse equip­ment and per­son­nel in an in­creased state of readi­ness. A quick re­sponse to a wild­fire will help de­crease the pos­si­bil­ity of that fire be­com­ing large and dis­as­trous. Lo­cal fire de­part­ments will work closely with the VDOF to pro­tect the cit­i­zens, prop­erty and re­sources of the Com­mon­wealth, but they can’t do it alone. Wild­fire preven­tion is still the best op­tion.

“Be­fore the rain this week, it had been more than 30 days since any mea­sur­able pre­cip­i­ta­tion fell on the Com­mon­wealth,” said Fred Turck, VDOF’s wild­fire preven­tion man­ager. “That has us very con­cerned be­cause when things are very dry they tend to burn much more quickly. And that makes bat­tling a re­sult­ing wild­fire that much harder and puts lives and prop­erty at risk,” he said.

Be­cause more than 96 per­cent of wild­fires in Vir­ginia are caused by hu­man ac­tiv­ity, most can be pre­vented if peo­ple take care to en­sure their de­bris burn­ing or camp­fire doesn’t es­cape their con­trol. Peo­ple burn­ing trash or de­bris re­mains the num­ber one cause of wild­fires in Vir­ginia.

“Weather plays a crit­i­cal role in wild­fire,” Turck said. “Be­fore you light your fire, make sure winds are less than 15 miles per hour and that the rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity level is above 35 per­cent. If the con­di­tions aren’t right, please don’t ig­nite.”

Fall is the time when some peo­ple burn their downed leaves, but there is an al­ter­na­tive – they make ex­cel­lent mulch for your yard/gar­den. If you do have to burn: keep your pile small; have a rake or shovel on hand; keep a charged wa­ter hose nearby, and have a phone ac­ces­si­ble to call 911 if the fire es­capes your con­trol.

“Stay with your fire un­til it is com­pletely out, and re­mem­ber that ashes can re­tain enough heat to ig­nite a fire for as many as a cou­ple of days,” Turck said.

While there isn’t a 4 p.m. Burn Law in ef­fect statewide dur­ing the fall, be sure to check with your lo­cal fire of­fi­cials for any lo­cal re­stric­tions or bans.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.