Cause of Rowan wildfire a warning to hunters, campers

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WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - It was a 63-acre wildfire that burned just outside of Morehead, more than a week ago. While the flames have long been put out, new information is coming out about the big burn.

"(It was) on the ridgetop, there was a place that they identified as a point of origin and there was an abandoned campfire, there, that appears that's where it started from there," explained Paul Finke from the U.S. Forest Service office in Winchester.

Even more, that fire is serving as a cautionary tale for campers and hunters this weekend as the modern gun deer season opens up. This likely means a lot of hunters will be out and that has the Forest Service concerned about the risks of wildfires.

"There will be a lot of people in the woods, and people are more focused on hunting than they are taking care of their campfire," said Finke, adding, "we always are concerned especially when the conditions get right, and we get more activity in the woods."

The U.S. Forest Service says this time of year is the heart of "Fire Season," and already there have been six wildfires reported. Finke said he is concerned because this weekend the conditions will be just right for the risk of fires spreading.

"We're seeing a drop in humidity which just makes fire potential that much more, and the leaf, the fuel layer, it's really dry."

Finke said it doesn't take much more than 24 to 48 hours of warmer weather and a slight breeze to dry out the leaves on the ground, and that means campers and hunters have to be extra diligent in putting out their campfires.

"You can't go off and hunt and come back to the fire. It has to be completely out before you go out to hunt," Finke said.

The U.S. Forest Service cautions that anyone found to leave a fire unattended could be fined up to $100 and additional fines for the fire suppression and any damages done by the flames. If you find anyone that you believe to be in violation the U.S. Forest Service encourages you to call their Arson tip-line at 1-800-27-ARSON or 1-800-272-7766.

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