A Red Flag Warning, which was issued on Sept. 16 banning all outdoor burning in Whitley County, has been lifted. However, this doesn’t mean that you can burn any time that you want.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. issued an executive order effective at 9 a.m. Monday lifting the burning back following recent rains.
A Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidity and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger, according to the National Weather Service.
Tuesday was the beginning of the Fall Wildfire Hazard Season, which runs through Dec. 15. During this time period, state law prohibits outdoor burning between 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. if the fire is in, or within 150 feet of, woodland, brush land or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
“These restrictions are in effect every Fall (Oct. 1 – Dec. 15) and Spring (Feb. 15 – April 30) Wildfire Hazard Season to help prevent wildfires under normal conditions,” said James Wright, Director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. “By adhering to the law and burning after 6 p.m., fires are less likely to escape. Over the last several weeks, some areas of the state have received some precipitation while others have received little if any.”
The state burning law Fall Wildfire Hazard Season restrictions are in effect through Dec. 15 whether or not a county has a burn ban or, if it does, if it lifts it.
Officials with the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) remind everyone to be careful with outdoor fire any time of the year, but especially during the wildfire seasons when the risk of a fire escaping is greatest. If a fire does escape, immediately contact the nearest Division of Forestry field office or local fire department.
In September, KDF responded to more than 104 wildfire fires, when normally there are none this time of year. Some of the recent fires have been controlled by local fire departments and are not reflected in the division’s September statistic.
Although the Whitley County Red Flag Warning has been lifted, a burning ban remains in effect for all Daniel Boone National Forest land, which was issued Friday by the U.S. Forest Service due to the worsening of drought conditions.
Campfires and open flames are prohibited throughout the general forest area in dispersed, non-developed recreation sites, such as Red River Gorge.
In developed campgrounds and picnic areas, campfires are permitted only in existing metal or concrete fire rings and pedestal grills installed by the Forest Service,” officials stated.
Within the London Ranger District, campfires are permitted at the following campgrounds, though officials noted it is only in rings installed by the forest service.
The areas where fires are permitted include: Bald Rock Picnic Area, Holly Bay Campground, Grove Campground, Craigs Creek Group Use Area, White Oak Boat-in Campground, Flatwoods Picnic Area, Laurel Bridge Picnic Area, S-Tree Campground and Picnic Shelter, Turkey Foot Campground and Picnic Shelter, and Little Lick Campground.
“The fire restriction order also prohibits the use of candles or any other open-flame device outside of developed recreation areas,” officials added.
Exceptions include portable lanterns and stoves that use pressurized gas or liquid fueled and that have a shutoff valve.
“Over the past several weeks, eastern Kentucky has received little rainfalls, and no significant rainfall is predicted anytime soon,” said Forest Management Officer E.J. Bunzendahl. “The forest ground fuels are extremely dry, approaching record lows for moisture.”
Anyone in violation of the U.S. Forest Service Supervisor’s Order will be fined and may be required to appear in federal court. In addition to fines, any individual or group responsible for causing a wildfire may be held liable for fire suppression costs.
A Williamsburg woman was recently ordered to pay the Forest Service more than $6,000 in restitution after a wild fire that destroyed 14 acres of land, including five acres of land in the London Ranger District. Burning trash sparked the fire.