March tornado damage could be fire hazard for years

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MENIFEE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Forestry officials say the 60-mile path of downed trees left by the March 2 tornado outbreak will cause problems for years to come.

What used to be a peaceful, shaded waterfall is now a pit full of devastation.

"A few day of wind and low humidity and we'll have some fires," said Floyd Willis of the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Forestry officials say that 60-mile stretch of downed trees means a much higher risk of forest fires.

"The danger is there's a large amount of heavy fuel on the ground and over the next few years, that fuel will dry and it will cause a lot more extreme fire behavior," said Willis.

Willis says the increased sunlight will also cause problems.

"Because there's been so much sunlight put on the forest floor, the forest will grow back so you'll have a lot of briars and young saplings. That will cause even more problems. It'll be a thicket with a lot of heavy fuel on the ground," he said.

Willis says there is some lumber harvesting going on, but most of these trees will take the old-fashioned way out - decomposition. In the meantime, he says there are steps people should take to protect their homes.

"Don't have your firewood stacked up close to your home. Blow the leaves away from your home especially if you're around heavy fuels like this," he said.

The fall forest fire season officially ends December 15.

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