WINCHESTER – Eastern Kentucky is experiencing some of the driest conditions in over a decade. While hikers, hunters and local residents may appreciate the extension of moderate temperatures and clear skies, fire professionals are concerned.
At a recent joint briefing at Natural Bridge State Park, officials from the U.S. Forest Service, Kentucky Department of Parks, Kentucky Division of Forestry and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources urged the public to take steps to prevent wildfire at home and while recreating.
Kessley Baker, a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, reiterated the importance of following statewide and county burn bans during wildfire hazard season. From October 1 through December 15, residents should avoid burning between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or within one hundred and fifty feet of woodland or brushland. She also recommended raking leaves and other yard debris out 30 feet from any buildings to minimize the risk of fire spreading to your home.
“Leaves and other dead plant debris are easy fuel for wildfires and eastern Kentucky is full of those right now. Even with a bit of rain or fog in the morning, our warm, breezy days dry those smaller fuels out quickly and can give you a false sense of security when setting up a campfire or burning at home,” said Tim Eling, Daniel Boone National Forest Public Affairs Officer. “It’s important that both our Forest visitors and residents of our neighboring communities take precautions to ensure that fires, whether from campfires or debris burning, are completely out before leaving them unattended.”
In addition to making sure that all campfires are dead out, Kevin Kelly, Chief Communications Officer for the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, urged hunters to be vigilant for potential fire starts when operating ATVs on dry grass and visiting back country areas where wildfires could spread quickly.
“98% of wildfires in Kentucky are human-caused – whether that’s from a debris fire that escaped, a campfire that wasn’t fully extinguished or even a hot engine idling in tall grass,” said Eling. “That means that almost all wildfires in Kentucky can be prevented if we all practice fire wise behaviors.”
For updates on fire conditions in the Daniel Boone National Forest, visit their website at www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf, Facebook page at www.facebook.com/danielboonenf, or Twitter at www.twitter.com/DanielBooneNF
For updates on fire conditions in state and private lands in eastern Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Division of Forestry at https://eec.ky.gov/Natural-Resources/Forestry/wildland-fire-management