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March 24, 2014

Red Flag Warning in Knox, Whitley

Statewide burn ban issued Friday by Ky. Division of Forestry

CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer

A statewide burn ban was issued Friday by the Kentucky Division of Forestry and several counties were put under “red flag” warning, including Whitley and Knox counties.

The red flag warning came after the Tri-County experienced numerous brush fires.

A burn ban prohibits burning between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. while red flag conditions prohibit burning at any time.

According to Oak Grove Fire Department Chief Kevin Gibbs, conditions for a red flag warning occur when there is low humidity, dry conditions and wind. Although there has been plenty of rain lately, Gibbs said wind can strip moisture from the environment and dry it out enough to become a fire hazard.

Gibbs said fires increase when the weather is warm due to people taking advantage of the weather to burn rubbish that accumulated over the winter, such as tree branches — a practice he discourages.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry recommends no burning between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. between Feb. 15 and April 30. This period of time is known as the “spring forest fire hazard season” due to the often dry and windy conditions.

“There are specific times you should be burning,” Gibbs said.

Woodbine Fire and Rescue Chief Rick Fore said a lot of brush fires occurred Friday due to a combination of dry and warm weather with low humidity. Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White called a ban on burning in the county Friday as a result of the numerous reports of brush fires. White had lifted a burn ban Wednesday, but the upsurge in fires called for it to be reinstated. According to Fore, most of these fires were a result of controlled burns and garbage burning spread by the wind.

“People don’t realize how dry it is,” Fore said. “They think because it rained recently it shouldn’t be dry out, but it is.”

Gibbs said if a person must burn something, they should never leave the fire unattended and should never hesitate to call 911 if the fire grows out of control. According to Gibbs, most people can easily put out a fire that is beginning to spread if they act early enough, but even a moment of neglect can result in a loss of control over the fire.

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