Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Spring forest fire hazard season begins Feb. 15
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2007) - Spring forest fire hazard season begins Thursday, Feb. 15, and runs through April 30. During this time, outdoor burning within150 feet of a woodland or brushland will be illegal from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Kentucky has had a wet winter, but a brief run of dry weather can turn forests into tinderboxes. Then there is the arson factor - the leading cause of wildland fires in Kentucky.
"Many people think that forest fires are caused by lightening or by careless campers," said Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry and Kentucky state forester. "While that may be true in the western United States, it isn’t true in Kentucky."
Arson fires in Kentucky’s forests can be reduced through aggressive law enforcement and prosecution combined with increased public awareness and education, the Wildland Arson Task Force said in a report to Governor Ernie Fletcher earlier this month.
MacSwords said the Division of Forestry needs the public’s help in stopping wildland arson. To report a suspected arsonist, contact the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON, any local law enforcement office or the division. Target Arson Hotline callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to an arrest and indictment.
A dry autumn raised fire danger levels in many areas. Some 1,857 fires - three-fourths of them arson - burned 49,759 acres last year. The division has battled 36 fires since Jan. 1.
Safety precautions should be taken and weather conditions considered before any outdoor burning. Check with your local fire department, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality and the Kentucky Division of Waste Management to ensure compliance with state and local outdoor-burning regulations.