By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
While several outbuildings and homes south of Gray were threatened Thursday afternoon from racing brush fire flames, crew members with both the Bailey Switch and West Knox volunteer fire departments were able to bring the blaze under control.
Reports came into the Knox County 911 Dispatch center concerning a fire near U.S. 25E and Old U.S. 25 near KY 1232 just before 3 p.m. Thursday.
The fire began closer to the Old U.S. 25, behind Slusher’s Auto Sales.
Choppy winds and dry conditions fueled the fire until it reached the edge of the road on U.S. 25E, where smoke from the blaze caused brief blinding conditions on the highway.
No one was injured, and no structures were damaged in the fire.
Kentucky’s Spring Forest Fire Hazard Season begins Feb. 15, and runs through the end of April.
According to the Kentucky Division of Forestry website, during 2012, more than 1,200 fires were reported across the state of Kentucky, which scorched nearly 33,000 acres. The average fire consumed approximately 27 acres.
That same website states that arson leads as the cause of Kentucky’s forest fires. “Ninety-nine percent of all wildland fires in Kentucky are caused by humans,” it states. “Some fires are accidental like unmonitored debris burning, campfires and sparks from farm equipment, but…many are intentionally set.”
The percentage is high, the website states.
“Nearly 60 percent of all wildfires in Kentucky are caused by arsonists,” it states. “These fires damage more than just forestland. They threaten homes, businesses and lives.”
According to Kentucky Revised Statutes, setting fire to land or property owned by another person rot entity is illegal.
KRS 149.380 states, “No person shall: 1)Willfully, maliciously, or wantonly set on fire or cause or procure to be set on fire any timberland, or flammable material on such land, which land is not owned, leased or controlled by him. 2)Willfully, maliciously, or wantonly allow a fire to escape from his land and burn the land or property of another. 3)Willfully, maliciously, or wantonly set, throw or place any device, instrument or paraphernalia in or adjacent to any timberland with intent to set fire to such land, or which in the natural course of events would result in fire being set to such timberland.”
The KDF website states those caught violating this statute could face a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both fine and imprisonment.