Increased Wildfire Dangers

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

June 22, 2006

With the recent intense heat and lack of rain, wildfires have popped up, causing concern among state officials. One doesn't have to look far to see wilting trees and dryness everywhere. That dryness has sparked wildfires all across the state, and with it being June 22, it's not a normal time of year to have these types of wildfires.

"Typically this time of year we would have no wildfires because of the green up of the vegetation, the grass, the trees. With the lack of rainfall, we are actually experiencing some wildfires," said Greg Meade with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

In fact, there have been 14 fires in the past 9 days statewide. The normal spring fire season runs mid February to the end of April. But with the lack of rain, the area is dryer, leading to more fires.

"The grass starts browning out. It is actually capable of carrying a fire again. The vegetation in the woods becomes more dry. The downed leaves, the twigs, the dead branches get more dry as the lack of rainfall continues," Meade said.

Combine the dryness with the upcoming July 4th holiday and officials are worried this trend may continue. Meade says people should just be aware because with no rain, this problem is not going away anytime soon.

"A half inch here, a half inch there won't help. We need several inches of rain to get us out of this danger," he said.

Officials say two things worry them about the holiday weekend, grilling and fireworks. They say citizens should be careful while discarding hot ashes and as for fireworks, leave them up to the professionals.

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