It’s wildfire season in Kentucky

Published 10:46 am Monday, October 9, 2023

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State officials are urging Kentuckians to be alert as the fall wildfire hazard season begins Oct. 1, bringing outdoor burning restrictions to the state, including a ban on daylight burning within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.

“We want to do everything we possibly can to keep all our Kentucky families safe, so we are asking everyone to use caution and be alert this wildfire season,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Let’s do what we do best: Work together to keep our neighbors safe.”

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Specific provisions of the state’s outdoor burning law (KRS149.400) prohibits burning between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time, if the fire is within 150 feet of any woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials. These restrictions are in effect every fall (Oct. 1 – Dec. 15) and spring (Feb. 15 – April 30) to help prevent wildfires.

“The National Interagency Coordination Center’s Predictive Services are indicating the Kentucky wildfire potential outlook is normal for this fall, but the lack of precipitation in late August and early September has us monitoring the situation,” Division Director/State Forester Brandon Howard stated. “Our firefighters are trained and ready to quickly and safely respond to wildfires when they occur.”

The Division of Forestry responds to more than 1,000 wildfires annually across the state. Studies show that 99% of all wildfires in Kentucky are from human activity. Arsonists start over half of the wildfires, and the second leading cause is debris fires that escape. If a fire escapes from the burning of debris, immediately contact the nearest Division of Forestry field office or local fire department.

As of Sept. 24, the Division of Forestry says there have been 740 wildfires this year, which have burned 12,590 acres. Two hundred and sixty four fires have been determined to be cases of arson, 243 due to debris burning, with the cause of the other 233 unknown.

The state has more than 12 million acres of forested area, with almost all of them available for timber production. This acreage also provides a critical habitat for many game and nongame wildlife species, including deer, turkey, elk and black bears.

“Carelessness with fire not only can have a human cost but also devastate the lives and habitat of the animal species that depend on forestland,” said Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “Please be responsible and be safe.”