John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection, said, “Virginia had a very dry summer, though Tropical Storm Ernesto provided some much-needed rainfall and has seemed to shift things back to a wetter cycle. We’re still going to need some steady rain about every five days or so for the next two months to reduce the risk of wildland fires during the fall fire season.”
Fall fire season in the Commonwealth runs from October 15th through November 30th. The combination of fallen leaves, low humidity, increased winds and minimal rainfall make conditions ripe for wildland fire.
Fred Turck, VDOF’s fire prevention coordinator, said, “Human carelessness, negligence or actual intent caused nearly all of the 1,208 wildland fires we’ve had in Virginia this year.”
These wildland fires have burned 12,665 acres of land and destroyed or damaged 58 structures in the Commonwealth this year. Most of the land and the structures were owned by private citizens. But it could have been much worse. Suppression efforts by various fire departments and the VDOF prevented the loss of nearly 800 structures this year.Since most wildland fires are human-caused, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk:
- Always check with your local fire department or the Virginia Department of Forestry for any regulations that prohibit outdoor burning.
- Clear the area around a brush pile before burning it;
- Never burn on windy days;
- Always place a wire mesh cover over a burn barrel;
- Dispose of fireplace and wood stove ashes in a metal container – don’t just dump them out;
- Stay with your fire until it is “dead out;”
- Never park a vehicle you’ve driven on top of dry leaves or in tall, dry grass, and
- Keep water and a shovel or a rake with you while burning.
For more information about wildfire in Virginia, go to http://www.dof.virginia.gov/index.html. You can also visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/firewise-index.shtml for helpful tips for preventing wildland fire around your home.