The Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) is again preparing for an active wildfire season. Each year, nearly 1,500 wildfires occur in the state of Kentucky based on the 10-year average.
Wildfires in Kentucky threaten and cause damage to homes, private property, trees and landscapes. More importantly, they place lives at risk, including those of firefighters. Most of Kentucky’s wildfires are preventable, the result of arson and careless open-burning (burning of trash, debris and brush). People start wildfires and people can prevent them.
State law restricts open burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the fall and spring forest fire hazard seasons, which run from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15 and from Feb. 15 to April 30, 2017, respectively.
Division Director Bill Steele said hardwood leaf litter is the most common source of combustible material in Kentucky forests.
"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,” Steele said. “Beginning in October, fresh new dead leaf litter begins to fall in the forest.”
During the October through December fire hazard season, winds become erratic due to the coming seasonal change and Kentucky also typically sees lower relative humidity (RH) numbers than in summer. When RH numbers get below 25 percent, bad fires can occur.
By restricting burning until after 6 p.m. during the fall and spring, winds are typically lower and the humidity is higher, making outdoor fires more manageable and less likely to escape. Arson is a felony and it’s everyone’s responsibility to take proper precautions when burning.
Residents should call the Division of Air Quality at )502) 782-6592 to learn about other specific regulations before burning anything.