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Expert: Dry summer across Virginia may produce busy fire season

Crystal Graham
smores campfire
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The Virginia Department of Forestry is warning Virginia residents to be extra careful when burning yard debris or enjoying a campfire or backyard fire pit.

Low humidity and windy conditions, along with dry grasses and fallen leaves, combine this time of year to create favorable conditions for wildfires to spark and spread quickly.

During years of dry summers wildfires are even more common.

“Most of Virginia had a very dry summer which causes leaves to fall earlier,” said DOF Chief of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “Unfortunately, these factors only improve conditions for wildfires to occur. However, with basic fire safety measures, we can stop most wildfires before they start.”

In Virginia, more than 75 percent of wildfires are caused by people, with escaped debris burns being the leading cause.

DOF has wildland firefighters assigned to every county across the state who work with local fire departments to protect people, property and our natural resources.

While the statewide 4 p.m. burn law is only in effect in the spring, DOF encourages Virginians to always check with local fire officials in your area for possible regional restrictions or bans.

Take these simple precautions to dramatically reduce the likelihood of a debris burn escaping your control:

  • Avoid burning on dry, windy days
  • Keep your burn pile small
  • Have a rake or shovel and water hose on hand
  • Have a phone ready to call 911 if a fire escapes your control
  • Stay with your fire until it’s completely out (drown, stir, ensure it’s cool)
  • Consider a “green” alternative to burning yard debris: compost your organic yard waste for your garden or yard

To learn more about the fall fire season in Virginia, visit the DOF’s website.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.