Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Fletcher Activates National Guard
Guard personnel, aircraft needed to combat wild land fires
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher has activated the Kentucky National Guard to combat an outbreak of wild land fires in eastern Kentucky. There have been 326 fires in the past week that have burned more than 10,000 acres. Ninety-one new fires were reported yesterday alone.
“I am activating the National Guard to ensure the safety and protection of the people of eastern Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “The homes, businesses and lives of our citizens are threatened by these wild land fires, some set by arsonists. I will commit all of the resources at my disposal to address this threat.”
The Kentucky Division of Forestry has battled more than 500 fires since Jan. 1, 2006. This eclipses the number of fires in the same period in 2001, the worst fire season in Kentucky in recent years.
Last December Governor Fletcher announced a new, multi-agency initiative to stem the growing tide of arson fires. The governor ordered targeted patrols by the Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to stop arson activity.
The National Guard will provide ground troops as well as air support to combat the fires. “This is just another opportunity for Kentucky’s home team to do what they do best, and that’s coming to the aid of others in their time of need,” said Maj. Gen. Donald C. Storm, Adjutant General for Kentucky. “Our troops have a lot of experience in supporting other state agencies during a crisis and you can expect them to perform with the same professionalism they’ve exhibited overseas and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.”
Forest arson is a felony, carrying a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment for up to five
years or both. Forest arson can be reported by calling 1-800-27-ARSON (1-800-272-7766).
“We cannot and will not tolerate criminal behavior,” said Governor Fletcher. “I call on all citizens to report suspicious behavior to their local authorities or to use the target hotline number.”