Tornado damage could fuel forest fires

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

EASTERN Ky. (WYMT) - The fall forest fire season is here, and officials say this year could be worse than normal.

The damage from the March 2nd tornadoes is still evident, downed trees and debris still littering hillsides.

"It's a real jungle," said Forester Tad Norris.

Forestry officials say that mess could cause problems as the fire season begins.

"If you've seen it, it's total devastation. Lots of trees on the ground, lots of tops on the ground. That is certainly added fuel that can burn in a fire," said Norris.

Officials say the damage not only adds possible fuel for fires but also complicates things for emergency officials fighting those fires.

"It's hard to get through that material. It's hard to cut a fire line or even run a bull dozer through that," said Norris.

They say with cooler air comes more burning.

"There's a lot more outdoor burning that takes place in the fall, a lot of people raking their leaves up and burning those," said Forester Adam McGuire.

The thought of burning leaves and burning bonfires combined with dead logs scattered about is scary for forest rangers, so they say it is best to use a little common sense when lighting an outdoor fire.

"If the wind is blowing 30 miles per hour and the humidity is down to 25 percent, don't burn," said Norris.

They say if a fire does start to get out of control, contact forestry officials or 911 immediately.

The fire season began October 1 and runs through December 15. No outdoor burning is allowed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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