Thinking about burning that already mounting pile of leaves in your back yard? If so, remember that it will be illegal to do so before 6 p.m. each day for the next several weeks.
Oct. 1 – Dec. 15 is fall fire hazard season in the state of Kentucky.
This means that it is illegal to do any outdoor burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brush land, except between the hours of 6 p.m. – 6 a.m., or when the ground is covered in snow.
Williamsburg Fire Chief Larry Todd said that there are good reasons for the burning ban during daytime hours, such as reducing the risk of wildfires.
“Humidity is low during the early parts of the day, and the sunshine and all bearing down on it makes it dry out a lot quicker. After 6 p.m., usually your humidity is back up and your heat is down making it less likely to burn as fast or quick,” Todd noted.
Another reason for the daytime burn ban is that nearly two-thirds of the fire departments in Kentucky are manned entirely by volunteers, most of whom work during the day.
“It taxes them. One department I read yesterday had 1,101 brush fires last year, and it was small, country volunteer fire department in eastern Kentucky,” he added.
Feb. 15 – April 30 serves as the spring fire hazard season in Kentucky.
Todd said that anytime you burn outdoors, it is important to keep in mind a few simple rules.
“Be sure to contact your local fire department or your dispatch center, and inform them before you burn,” Todd said.
Clear the vegetation from around your burn pile for 10 feet.
Be prepared with a water hose, rake or bucket in case the fire starts to get away from you.
Never leave a fire unattended.
“Stay with it until it is out. Never leave it alone,” Todd added.
According to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, there are nearly 1,500 wildfires in Kentucky each year.
Last fall, the Kentucky Division of Forestry responded to 520 fires that burned 52,216 acres with a timber value loss of $20,642,663. The majority of the fires occurred in November.
Most of Kentucky’s wildfires are preventable, and are the result of human activity, such as arson and careless open burning of trash, debris and brush.
Last fire season, 70 people were given citations for illegal burning and 14 were arrested and charged with setting fires in the commonwealth.
Division of Forestry Director James Wright said the most widely available fuel for wildfires in Kentucky is hardwood leaf litter.
“Unlike western fires that burn on the ground and in the canopy, Kentucky’s fires usually stay on the forest floor and burn only what is already down,” Wright said. “Beginning in October, fresh new dead leaf litter begins to fall in the forest.”