To the editor:
The Virginia Department of Forestry and federal partners within the state are preparing for what could be a severe fall wildfire season across Virginia.
“This is one of the driest falls we’ve seen in Virginia during the past 20 years,” State Forester Rob Farrell said. “The potential for an increased number of fires and more complex fires is significant.”
According to Phil Manuel, a meteorologist with the Blacksburg National Weather Service, many areas went more than 25 days without significant rainfall, prior to rains this week. That, combined with the lower humidity levels that are typical this time of year, increase the risk of wildfires. This time of the year there is always the possibility of a tropical storm to bring rain to Virginia, but so far there are none on the horizon.
Virginia’s fall wildfire season typically runs from Oct. 15 until the end of November or early December. It has been several years since the traditional fall wildfire season has begun facing such dry conditions.
In early October, more than 24 localities in Virginia enacted county-wide bans on all outdoor burning. These localities are mainly located in southwest Virginia.
The VDOF asks all citizens, especially those who live in counties with a burn ban in place, to obey all local restrictions and postpone any burning until the burn bans are removed. If you live in an area that does not have any restrictions on burning, please, be extra careful.
•Don’t burn on windy days;
•Keep your burn piles small;
•Have water and tools nearby;
•Never leave your fire unattended;
•If you are burning and your fire escapes, call 911 immediately.
“How this season turns out remains to be seen,” Farrell said. “But the potential for a severe fire season is very real. VDOF personnel have ramped up preparedness and we urge the public to do their part to help reduce the number and severity of fires this fall.”
-Fred Turck, Virginia Department of Forestry