In Oct. 8 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
The state forest fire hazard season began late last week, according to Russell County Emergency Management Director H.M. Bottom.
The state's Division of Forestry says during this season it is illegal to burn anything within 150 feet of any woodland, brushland or forest in between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Forestry officials say the law, which is put into effect each year around this time, is intended to prevent fires during the fall of the year when the potential for dry conditions and the accumulation of leaf litter increases risks for wildfires.
Bottom said the area has been lucky thus far concerning fires due to the wet summer months and early fall we have had locally.
"Last year was a tough year but this year we've not had any problems at all," he said.
Last fall, Judge-Executive Mickey Garner ordered a countywide burn ban that ran for much of the fall.
Bottom said the state-issued fire hazard season was a notice for everyone to still be careful when conducting controlled fires after 6 p.m.
"With the leaves turning, that's always a problem," he said. "Then after the first frost and the grass dies that will be another problem."
Leah MacSwords, the director of the division of forestry, said an added concern this year is that several serious storms, including a devastating ice storm early this year, left a significant increase in dead and fallen trees, more so in the western part of the state but still enough in the Lake Cumberland area to urge caution.
Grass fires are also common this time of year and the local fire departments say they are ready when one does happen to break out, Bottom said.
He urged anyone going to have a controlled burn to contact him at 270-343-2112 or dispatch at 270-343-6600 to let them know that such a burn is taking place.
"When people see a fire they assume it is not being watched," he said. "If they let us know ahead of time that they're burning it really helps with burn control."
Debris burning, a leading cause of wildfires in Kentucky, is annually one of the biggest concerns to both local and state fire officials and sparks and embers from burning dead limbs, brush and leaves can quickly ignite nearby vegetation and spread out of control especially under warm, dry and windy conditions.
Another concern for forest fire hazard season is arson, according to the Department of Forestry.
Even though deliberately setting fire to the forest is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment, more than half of the of forest fires in the state are the result of arson, forestry statistics show.
Citizens who witness suspected arson activity are asked to call local law enforcement, Kentucky State Police post 15 or the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.
For more information regarding fire hazard seasons, contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at 1-800-866-0555 or visit the division's Web site at http://www.forestry.ky.gov/programs/firemanage/. Information regarding open burning regulations, allowable materials to burn and legal disposal methods can be obtained by contacting the Division for Air Quality at 1-888-BURN-LAW and the Division of Waste Management at 1-888-NO-DUMPS.
The annual fall fire season runs through Dec. 15, according to forestry officials