FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – With the start of Spring Wildfire Hazard Season, the Kentucky Division of Forestry is urging Kentuckians to be cautious and follow state laws when burning debris.
The KDF says Spring Wildfire Hazard Season officially starts today, Wednesday, Feb. 15, and lasts through Sunday, April 30. This means that the law prohibits burning between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. or burning within 150 feet of any woodlands or brushland.
The KDF says Kentuckians should consider all factors prior to burning to help maximize safety for others, property and forests.
“There is more moisture in the soil compared to last fall when we were in a drought, but the leaves and fuel on the ground quickly dry on sunny, windy days,” said Division of Forestry Director / State Forester Brandon Howard. “In many areas we are still recovering from last year’s natural disasters which have resulted in more fuel if a wildfire occurs. We ask that if debris burning occurs, take proper precautions to prevent fires from escaping and becoming wildfires. And as always, report any suspected arson activity to local law enforcement.”
According to the KDF, March and April are considered “typically high wildfire occurrence months.” Officials also say the KDF has already responded to 116 wildfires in the state this year. Of those, the KDF says only 10%, or 11 fires, were caused by downed power lines during wind events. The KDF says the majority were the result of burning outdoor debris and alleged arson.
The KFD says on average they and partners throughout the state respond to more than 1,000 wildfires across the Bluegrass State each year.
Forestry officials say that public 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.
Officials say by taking the following steps, residents can help reduce the risk of a wildfire starting:
- 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 Division for Air Quality has many outdoor burning restrictions. To learn more about open burning regulations, click here.
- 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 forest wildfire hazard seasons.
- Incorporate “Firewise” practices around homes and communities in forested areas, which includes creating a defensible space around homes by removing leaves, debris, and firewood. To learn more about the Kentucky Firewise Program, click here.
- If you see suspicious acts of possible arson, report it to local law enforcement, the nearest Kentucky State Police post or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.
- To burn agriculture residue or forestland litter, plow a fire line around the area that is meant to be burned. The KDF says large fields should be separated into small plots to burn one at a time. The local KFD county forest ranger should also be contacted before any burning in a wooded area.