TRI-COUNTY — The badly needed rainfall of the past few days has resulted in the burn ban in Laurel County being lifted.
Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield issued the order on Monday, following the downpours of rain that hit the area over the weekend and extended into Monday morning. The order reads as such:
"Whereas, due to current and predicted weather conditions, the extreme danger of forest fires in Laurel County has been abated. I, David Westerfield, County Judge Executive of Laurel County, do hereby rescind the Executive Order that banned all outside burning in Laurel County, effective Oct. 7, 2019."
Knox County Judge-Executive Mike Mitchell also lifted the ban in his county on Monday.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White, Jr. had previously lifted the ban in Whitley County.
The orders to lift the county ban continues to remind citizens in the area that the official fire season launched on Oct. 1 and continues until Dec. 15. During those times, outdoor burning is only permitted between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The spring fire season is observed from Feb. 15 through April 30 of each year, at which time the burning times are the same. Those fires must be at least 150 feet of a residence or wooded area.
The county has seen some illegal burning already - a fire was reported in the Pulaski County section of the Daniel Boone National Forest, burning over 200 acres of woodlands.
The number of fires reported on Oct. 6 by the Kentucky Wildland Fire Management lists four fires that burned 8,847 acres of woodland. A fire at Red River Gorge was another area where wildfires were begun by embers from a campfire that consumed 125 acres of wooded areas.
The dry weather that marked September resulted in 107 wildfires, according to an article published in the Kentucky Wildland Management that is part of the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. The causes of wildfires are also broken down into categories, with arson being the highest cause of wildfires.
That article offers a breakdown of causes of fires across Kentucky over the past 10 years, with a total of 13,188 fires reported. Arson ranked first with 8,575 fires from 2007 through 2016. Lightning caused 49 fires, while campfires are listed as the cause in 101 fires. Burning debris ranks the next most common cause behind arson. Burning debris caused 2,890 fires, followed by equipment use taking third spot. Children created 57 of the fires in Kentucky over the decade of the observation, with equipment use attributed to 340 fires. Lightning caused 49 fires, while smoking and railroad filled out the numbers at 65 and 38, respectively.