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March 21, 2013

Spring fire season underway

Woodbine Fire Dept. responds to blazes near Whitley-Knox line

CORBIN —  

By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

A brush fire off of Rapier Hollow Road near the Whitley and Knox county line was quickly brought under control by the Woodbine Volunteer Fire Department Wednesday afternoon.

No structures were damaged and no one was injured.

Firefighters at the scene did not know the cause of the blaze, which burned on property apparently owned by Mountainside Coal Company.

And just after 9 p.m. Wednesday night, Woodbine firefighters headed to another brush fire near KY 6 and KY 459 west of Barbourville.

The spring fire season is well underway.

The spring Forest Fire Hazard Season, set by Kentucky law, began Feb. 15 and will end April 30. These are the standing dates for the annual spring fire season, which were set in 2003.

Division of Forestry Director Leah MacSwords said wildfires are “an extremely dangerous situation that doesn’t have to happen.”

Woodbine Fire Chief Rick Fore recently agreed.

“People need to use their heads,” he said.

As temperatures continue to get warmer, the danger of a wildfire increases.

While Wednesday’s brush fire did little damage, the high winds could have easily made the fire much worse — there are several homes right there in the vicinity.

Fore suggested those planning a controlled burn should monitor upcoming weather conditions.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Jackson issued a Red Flag Warning for the day. Low humidity, dry conditions and gusty winds caused the Red Flag warning.

According to the NWS forecast from Jackson, “Generally dry conditions can be expected for the rest of the work week.”

That still doesn’t eliminate the dangerous potential of fire.

“Everybody needs to be cautious and aware of their surroundings,” Fore said. “They need to listen to the weather, or even call the Jackson weather service.”

He also advises informing the local fire departments so they are aware of a controlled burn.

Right now, according to the U.S. Forestry Service’s Wildland Fire Assessment System (www.wfas.net), the fire danger rating for the state is mostly “moderate.”

All of Eastern Kentucky is in that zone.

According to the website, a Fire Danger Rating level takes into account current and antecedent weather, fuel types, and both live and dead fuel moisture.

There are five levels: extreme, very high, high, moderate and low.

But as was seen Wednesday, “moderate” still means a fire can happen.

“You have to be cautious when it comes to a controlled burn,” Fore said.

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