ASHLAND, Ky. (AP) - With a lingering drought, state foresty officials in eastern Kentucky are anticipating a challenging fire season and are looking for more emergency firefighters.
Dexter Conley, a district forester for the Eastern District, said there already has been forest and brush fires in Floyd and Pike counties. Similar fires have also been reported in Knott and Perry counties, Conley said.
Across the state, 1,500 wildfires have burned over 41,000 acres, according to the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
Conley said qualified individuals are urged to apply through the Kentucky Division of Forestry for paid positions as emergency firefighters.
Conley said the human factor will almost certainly make the difference in forest and brush fire statistics this fall and winter.
"Lightning starts five or six fires each year, and the other 99 percent of them are caused by people," he said.
Meanwhile, the Daniel Boone National Forest has issued a ban on open fires after the drought left the landscape parched and extremely vulnerable to wildland blazes.
Forest supervisor Jerome Perez issued an forest-wide order that prohibits, "building, maintaining, attending or using fire, charcoal, or campfire outside of a developed recreational site" on the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Portable lanterns and stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are permitted.
"Unless Kentucky receives considerable rainfall, we expect this fall to be one of the worst fire seasons on record," Perez said.
"Already this year, the Daniel Boone National Forest has experienced nearly 100 fires burning 6,500 acres," he said. "This is already 3,000 more blackened acres than all of last year."
Gov. Ernie Fletcher has also banned all outdoor burning across the state.
Information from: The Independent,
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