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Kentucky Officials Encourage 'Responsibility' During Forest Fire Season

Roger Rosentreter, 123rf Stock Photo

This week marks the start of Kentucky’s Forest Fire Hazard Season. A leading state forest fire official hopes this fall’s burnings are fewer and less severe than last year.

Firefighters from Kentucky’s Division of Forestry responded to more than 500 wildland fires last year that burned more than 52,000 acres and consumed more than $20 million worth of timber. 

State Fire Chief Brandon Howard says drought conditions caused fires to burn deeper into the ground and were harder to extinguish.

“We were having a hard time controlling the old fires.  So they were just compounding on each other.  This year we don’t anticipated the season to be as bad,” said Howard.

Howard says fire crews always prepare for worst-case scenarios and arson remains a problem.   Last year 14 people were arrested and charged with setting fires.

The State Division of Forestry Fire Chief is reminding citizens of their responsibility to monitor open burning.  

State Fire Chief Brandon Howard says irresponsibility can result in a cost for those who start fires.  He says using fire suppression equipment can be costly. 

“We’ve had an incident a few years ago where we were on a fire for four or five days and you had to use a couple bulldozers and that fire ended up costing about $18,000,” noted Howard.

Howard says response to a small woodland fire might carry a cost of only $50. 

Open burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. is illegal during the fire season which runs until December 15th.  Open burning is permitted during the overnight hours.

© 2017 WEKU

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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