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Governor Beshear Urges Caution as Wildfire Hazard Season Begins October 1

Bill Stephens

September 29th, 2022

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Extra vigilance is urged; Kentucky outdoor burning law in place

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 29, 2022) – Governor Beshear and Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman urged every Kentuckian to be alert as Fall wildfire hazard season in Kentucky begins October 1, bringing outdoor burning restrictions to the state.

“With regions of the Commonwealth recovering from flooding damage, it is especially important that all Kentuckians be vigilant with fire safety when outdoors,” Gov. Beshear said. “Think of others so that we can all be safe.”

The Commonwealth’s outdoor burning law (KRS149.400) prohibits burning between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (prevailing local time), if the fire is within 150 feet of any woodland, brushland, or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials. These restrictions are in effect every fall (October 1 – December 15) and spring (February 15 – April 30) to help prevent wildfires.

“With Kentuckians heavily impacted by natural disasters over the last nine months, the division will continue to work hard to protect our fellow citizens and wildlife,” said Brandon Howard, Kentucky’s State Forester and Director of the Division of Forestry. “We ask that if debris burning occurs, take proper precautions to prevent fires from escaping and becoming wildfires.”

The Division of Forestry responds to more than 1,000 wildfires annually across the state. Studies show that 99% of all wildfires in Kentucky are from human activity. Arsonists start over half of the wildfires, and the second leading cause is debris fires that escape. If a fire escapes from the burning of debris, immediately contact the nearest Division of Forestry field office, or the local fire department.

The Commonwealth has more than 12 million acres of forested area, with almost all of them available for timber production. This acreage also provides a critical habitat for many game and nongame wildlife species, including deer, turkey, elk, and black bears.

“It is vitally important that we don’t lose any of this resource due to carelessness with fire,” Cabinet Secretary Goodman said. “Please be responsible and be safe.”

To help 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.
  • The Kentucky Division for Air Quality has information on addressing the disposal of storm and flood debris at https://eec.ky.gov/Environmental-Protection/Air/Documents/StormDebris082720.pdf
  • 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 brushland during wildfire hazard seasons.
  • Incorporate “Firewise” practices around homes and communities in forested areas. Firewise practices include creating 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.

Contact your local fire department or county judge-executive’s office for questions regarding local burn bans. Residents should call the Division for Air Quality at 1-888-BURN-LAW to learn about other specific regulations before burning anything.

For more on the Kentucky Division of Forestry, and the wildland fire management program, visit http://bit.ly/KyWildfireMgmt.

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