Experts predict volatile fall fire season

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The saying "only you can prevent forest fires" is likely one you've heard all your life. Fall fire season is in full effect.

Forestry officials say weather conditions are especially dry this fall, setting the stage for what could turn out to be one of the most active fire seasons in recent years. Several factors are making this fall particularly dangerous for forest fires.

"It's a little bit earlier this year because of the draught earlier this summer. That led to drier conditions earlier in the fall, which led to an earlier leaf fall, which makes for a longer fire season for us," said Morgan Combs, Kentucky River District Ranger for the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Fire fighters have already responded to several fires this season. Forestry officials say most blazes are man-made.

"With the fires we've had so far this season, it's been campfires, debris burning, burning garbage, burning brush," said Herman Slone, Kentucky River District Forester.

Fire season in Kentucky runs from October 1st through December 15th. During that time, state forestry officials say it is illegal to burn between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. They say fires are less likely to spread during the evening hours.

"It's getting damper at that time, and a fire is not going to burn nearly as intense and is not as likely to escape from you," said Slone.

If you are going to burn, foresters say you should keep the area clear of flammable materials, keep a water hose nearby and never leave a fire burning unattended.

"As long as it's burning, even if you're burning after 6:00 p.m., the law does require that you stay with it until it's out," explained Slone.

With conditions ideal for fires to get out of hand, officials say preventing forest fires is everyone's responsibility.

Kentucky Division of Forestry officials we spoke with say as many as 60 percent of the fires they fight turn out to be arsons. They say anyone with tips about arsonist activity should call the police.

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