The severity of Kentucky’s wildfire season depends on its citizens
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 30, 2021) – With wildfires raging in the western United States, Kentuckians are reminded that as the state enters its Fall Forest Fire Hazard Season on October 1, their actions can make a big difference in the number and severity of fires in the commonwealth.
Wildfires are more than 99% human-caused in Kentucky. People deliberately setting forests on fire is the number one cause, followed by the burning of fields or debris, according to Brandon Howard, Director of the Division of Forestry. Other causes are sparks from faulty equipment, downed electrical lines, children playing with fire, and escaped campfires.
“The safety of our communities and the protection of our state’s vast forest resources is our top priority,” Howard said. “But for our state to keep fires to a minimum this fall season, every Kentuckian has to be intentional and responsible.”
In an effort to reduce accidental fires, burning restrictions are in place during fall fire season when fallen leaves can quickly spread flames. Beginning Oct.1 through Dec. 15, it is illegal under state law to burn anything within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Delaying burning until late in the evening when humidity levels are typically higher and winds are generally lower makes it harder for fires to escape.
Forestry officials say that individual efforts can go a long way in reducing the occurrence of wildfire. Taking extra precautions with debris fires and campfires and being alert to forest arson can eliminate the majority of wildfires that occur in Kentucky. To prevent wildfires, KDF recommends the following precautions:
- Be aware of all outdoor burning restrictions, including forest fire hazard seasons, air pollution regulations, restrictions imposed by local ordinances, and county burn bans.
- Avoid burning debris during fire hazard seasons and during times of dry, windy conditions. Outdoor burning is illegal between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in or within 150 feet of any woodland or brush land during forest fire hazard seasons.
- Completely extinguish all campfires and debris piles, especially if conditions become too windy. Never leave a fire unattended.
- Extinguish smoking materials properly. Put out cigarettes, cigars, or pipes only in areas free of vegetation or debris.
- Avoid parking cars, trucks, or recreational vehicles on dry vegetation. The exhaust system on a vehicle can reach a temperature of more than 1,000 degrees, which is hot enough to start a wildfire during a dry season.
- Incorporate “Firewise” practices around homes and communities in forested areas. Create a defensible space around homes by removing leaves, debris, and firewood to ensure access for safety personnel and equipment in rural or isolated areas.
- Report suspicious acts of arson to the nearest Kentucky State Police post or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.
“If everyone follows these suggestions, it will help ensure that our firefighters, citizens and properties stay safe and that our forests remain treasured resources for us all,” Howard, said.
For more information about how you can prevent wildfires, contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at 1-800-866-0555 or visit the Division’s website at https://eec.ky.gov/Natural-Resources/Forestry