Kentucky Division of Forestry
Wildfires Continue in Southeast Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Monday, November 10, 2008  
Contact Information:  Lynn Brammer

Wildfires Continue in Southeast Kentucky
Division of Forestry Committed to Prevention and Suppression Efforts

     FRANKFORT, Ky – Nov. 10, 2008 –     Since Oct. 1, the beginning of fall forest fire hazard season, a total of 475 fires have burned 9,488 acres.  These wildfires create unnecessary expense, damage valuable resources and threaten lives of people across southeastern Kentucky.   Fortunately, firefighters from the Kentucky Division of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, volunteer fire departments and correction crews are trained to safely and efficiently suppress and contain these fires.  Their skills in fighting wildland fire, their knowledge of fire behavior and their courageous efforts are critical to the protection of our environment and the safety of our communities.
     “We have hard-working, dedicated forest wardens who have the authority to enforce forest fire laws and who have extensive training in wildland fire fighting,” said Leah MacSwords,” director of the Division of Forestry.  “We also employ and provide training to part-time employees and emergency laborers each year during the forest fire hazard seasons.”  These employees, like the forest wardens, are required to complete basic wildfire courses developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.
     As conditions for forest fires are likely to peak in the next few weeks, the Kentucky Division of Forestry would like to remind citizens to be cautious and mindful of outdoor burning restrictions.  The state’s forest fire hazard laws restrict burning within 150 feet of the woods between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the fall season from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15.  Additionally, there are numerous burn bans that have been enacted by local governments.  Local burn bans provide further restrictions by prohibiting all outdoor burning.  Citizens should contact their county judge’s office or local fire department for more information on local burn bans. 
     Although most individuals obey burning laws and otherwise use caution and common sense when it comes to fire, there are some individuals who set fires as a means to harass landowners, destroy property and retaliate against others. These few are the forest arsonists who deliberately set the woods on fire for no purposeful reason.  Arson is the leading cause of wildfires in our state and is suspected in 70 percent of the fires that have occurred this fall.  These offenders should be aware that people are watching and turning them in to authorities. 
     To help expose arsonists: 
• Look for suspicious fires –the origin of arson fires are not easily identified. 
• Be able to provide information about location, vehicles, license plate numbers and suspicious individuals.
• Call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.  You may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information leads to the arrest and indictment of an arsonist. 
• You may also contact your local law enforcement officers, the Kentucky State Police or the Kentucky Division of Forestry district office that serves your area. 
     Forest arson is a felony under state law (KRS 149.380) and is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.  For more information regarding forest arson, wildland fire, or outdoor burning restrictions contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at 1-800-866-0555.