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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween and Woods Arson

Sure are glad we got the rain we did over the last 2 weeks HOWEVER its been a couple of days and today is going to be another low humidity day but the winds will be light. It is a fire day as they say and so will tomorrow.

BE Vigiliant! Most fires are accidental BUT it is those criminal acts of Woods Arson that are of greatest concern especially around Halloween.


Tip Of The Blog

Stop Woods Arson

Cigarette LighterWoods arson (also called forest arson or wildland arson) is a common term for deliberately burning forests, grasslands, or brush without the owner’s permission.
It is a leading cause of wildfire in Virginia and the southern region.
Most cases of woods arson are generally felonies under many state laws.

Who Loses When Woods Arson Occurs?

Everybody loses when wildland arsonists strike:
  • consumers pay more for the thousands of products made from forest materials,
  • taxpayers foot the bill for suppressing the fires,
  • jobs are often eliminated when the resource is reduced, and
  • it is common for families living in wooded areas and grasslands lose their homes and possessions.

Preventing Woods Arson

Most state forestry offices and local fire departments have established arson hotlines, so citizens can call to report woods arson. IN VIRGINIA YOU ARE incouraged to CALL 911.
Please give as much information as you have available, to include:
  • Location and time of the fire
  • Name of person responsible, if known
  • Description of persons observed at the scene
  • Description of any vehicles observed at the scene
  • Any other pertinent information

Friday, October 29, 2010

Have a Happy and SAFE Halloween from Smokey

Happy Halloween and a tip of the blog ... thats all!


Tip of the Blog

Tips for Wildfire Season or anytime from Verizon Wireless


One I never thought of before but is a very good Tip.


Verizon Wireless urges residents to prepare emergency communication plans and offers consumers these tips:
·       Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
·       Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
·       Store emergency phone numbers in your phone – police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers.
·       Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
·       Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
·       Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you evacuate.
·       Be ready to communicate by brief text messages as needed – it conserves capacity on wireless networks so they're more available to emergency agencies.

Many cell phone companies work to maintain and expand service rapidly to support first responders during local and regional disasters.  For example Verizon Wireless during the 2009 Station Fire in CA, the company deployed a wireless network enhancer on wheels along with a portable generator at the fire command center. The enhancer's 40-foot tall antenna expanded wireless coverage and capacity for the crews fighting the remote blaze.  

Instructions  to forward calls

Things You'll Need:

  • Cell phone
  • Land line
  1. Power on both of your pones to get ready to forward calls.
  2. Make sure you have the call forwarding feature on your land line. If not, you will have to add it as part of a bundle or package or just as a separate feature. You can do this online or by calling the phone company if you have time to spare.
  3. Press 72* and then your cell phone number. You might hear a few beeps. Check the number for accuracy. (Check with your phone company for exact forwarding digits, it varies by carrier).
  4. Test the line by calling the home phone and seeing if does forward to your cell phone or just sends a busy signal. If not, repeat the steps.
  5. Press 73# to take back the phone line and calls will start coming in on your home phone again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Severe storms impact Virginia. What To Do With The Debris?

A massive storm system that set records on Tuesday in the mid-west for the lowest surface pressure ever observed in the continental United States from a non-tropical cyclone impacted Virginia yesterday.
The rain was needed BUT we sure did NOT need the damage that accompanied the storms.

Many folks will be cleaning up over the next several days / weeks.  For those who live in areas that allow burning of yard debris, Smokey has some safety tips later on in this blog. Those of you who do not want to nor are able to burn your debris there are other options.
Many localities have programs that allow you to pile the debris on the street edges so it can be picked up by waste management operations. Check with your localities for rules and regulations.

If you only have a small amount of debris and you have the room you might want to consider building a wildlife brush pile. This is NOT just a pile of brush that is created in hopes that it will be beneficial to wildlife. There are specifically built with wildlife protection in mind.

Few wildlife management practices can provide a more important part of wildlife habitat for the amount of effort as brush piles. In just a few minutes, a person may construct a place suitable for wildlife to escape from severe weather and predators, as well as a place to rest or raise their young. The main benefactor of brush piles is most often thought to be rabbits. While it is true that rabbits will readily use them, brush piles are also havens to box turtles, fence lizards, songbirds, small rodents and other mammals.
The term "brush pile" is commonly understood to be a pile of limbs arranged to permit entry of small wildlife to the exclusion of larger animals that may prey on them. Brush piles are not necessarily made of trees, limbs or brush. Scrap building lumber, wooden pallets, rocks, concrete blocks, plastic pipe, clay tiles or old culverts may also be used though some landowners prefer the "natural" appearance of brush or field stones.

Brush piles made of tree limbs or brush

Construct by placing 4 or 5 large (6" to 12" diameter) and fairly straight limbs or posts on the ground parallel to one another with about 12" spaces between each. Criss-cross similar sized and number of limbs on top. Smaller limbs should be added to the top. The final product should be 15 to 20 feet in diameter and 3 or 4 feet high.
Build this type in woodlands along woodland trails or the edges of fields.

Tip Of The Blog

If you must burn, do it safely!

·  Check with your local fire department to see if open burning is permitted or if you need a burn permit.
·  Prior to the burn, contact your local forestry office or rural fire department and tell them your plans—what time you plan to start burning, how long you plan to burn, and what (brush piles, leaves, etc.) you will burn.
·  Check the weather. Avoid burning on dry, windy days. Pick an overcast day when winds are calm and humidity is high. Try to burn before 10:00 a.m. or after 3:00 p.m. This is when winds are usually calmest and humidity is highest.
·  Keep brush piles small (about 5 feet by 5 feet), and burn them in open fields when snow is on the ground or in the late spring after the grass has greened up.
·  Avoid burning piles under overhanging tree limbs, utility lines or close to buildings.
·  Cover your debris pile with a waterproof tarp. After a rain, when the surrounding vegetation is wet, remove the plastic and you’ll be ready to burn. This helps reduce the chance of your fire spreading to surrounding vegetation.
·  Before you burn, gather rakes, wet burlap sacks and other firefighting tools. Have a source of water close by. This will help you take quick action should your fire start to get out of control. Call the fire department immediately should a fire escape.
·  Stay with your burn pile until it is completely extinguished. Drown ashes with water and stir them with a shovel or rake to make sure there are no hot embers left smoldering.
·  Check your fire the next day . . . just to be sure.

·  Debris will burn easier and more completely with less smoke if you wait till the debris has cured some. Using a lot of accelerant like gas or kerosene on “green fuels” just to try and get them to burn is not only DANGEROUS but inefficient. Using some dry leaves, old lumber, paper or cardboard to start your fire is much safer.

PLEASE remember what Smokey has taught us. ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE.

several of the photos of the storm damage as well as the one below were taken from local newspaper web pages this morning.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

more rain "This is GOOD'!

I just had to bring my picture in the rain back for a repeat preformance. Looks like most of VA got anywhwere from 0.25 to 1.25 inches yesterday and overnight. For the most part the excessive winds did not materilize and I have not heard of any wind related damage. This too is Good!

Our friends in Texas sure culd use the rain. Check out their web site for more info

Wildfire and emergency response
Forest Resource Protection strives to prevent, mitigate and suppress wildfires and other natural disasters that endanger lives, property and the state’s natural resources. Forest Resource Protection is divided into five broad departments: prevention and mitigation, predictive services, planning and preparedness, local capacity building, and incident response. These departments work together to prepare, prevent, mitigate and respond to disasters as quickly as possible.

If you have just experienced a wildfire, here are a few tips and resources to get you and your property back to normal.

Apply for a Community Wildfire Protection Plan grant
Subscribe to the Burn Ban RSS feed rss_icon
Burn ban informationFire department assistance programs
Google Earth
Smokey BearTFS wildfire case studies
Regional Type III Incident Management Teams

Tip Of The Blog

Haloween safety Tips in nglish and Spanish. Enjoy and stay SAFE!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rain dampens wildfire threat

A strong cold front is working its way through OH, KY, TN and states to the south. See picture below. This will go a long way in reducing the threat of widfires for those areas that get the rain. This is NOT the end to fall fire season it just helps a lot!

Tip Of The Blog
Check out for some great Smokey  Bear fun, trivia and history.

Show your commitment to wildfire prevention.

Take the "Get Your Smokey On" Wildfire Pledge

I pledge to:
  • To use caution and common sense before lighting any fire.
  • To understand that any fire I or my friends create could become a wildfire.
  • To understand and practice proper guidelines whenever I or my friends create a fire outdoors.
  • To never, ever leave any fire unattended.
  • To make sure any fire that I or my friends create is properly and completely extinguish before moving on.
  • To properly extinguish and discard of smoking materials.
  • To be aware of my surroundings and careful when operating equipment during periods of dry or hot weather.
  • To speak up and step in when I see someone in danger of starting a wildfire.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More wildfire activity over the weekend

The following were taken from morning news reports...
·        Wildfires Threaten Homes in Arkansas
·        Wildfires still burning near Fort Knox
·        Wildfires now blazing in West Point, Ky., possibly sparked by fires burning at Ft. Knox
·        Wildfires Flare Up In Ky. Counties
·        ABINGDON, VA -- Our region is currently more than six inches behind on rainfall for the year. The abnormally dry conditions in our area are the perfect breeding grounds for fires.

 It's not all bad news ..
  • Rain Helps Firefighters Put Out Wildfires in Lauderdale County, Tennessee

    Tip Of The Blog

    When fire danger is high, support your local fire department, and follow all fire restrictions.

    Remember fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

    If you don't prevent fires - who will?


    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Wildfires in the News

    This mornings headlines from a Google search

    Wildfires Flare Up In Ky. Counties

    Ga. authorities concerned about wildfires

    State very dry, fire danger increasing (TN)


    It is so very dry in many states, here in Virginia we are fortunate to have gotten some rain. HOWEVER as the leaves continue to fall and we stay dry and warm OUR FIRE DANGER increases each day.
    PLEASE "Do Your Part .. Don't Let A Wildfire Start." Check out earlier posts to this blog for tips and check your local forestry's web sites for more information.

    The pictures below are from a fire yesterday in TN

    Thanks for Caring and Thanks for listening.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Wildfire Prevention Tips From Smokey

    An old (1960's ?) ad I came accross. It might be old like me but the message is still the same.


    Weather Activity Planner and Home Heating Tip

    For all you hooked on weather. The following is from our NOAA friends. A pretty cool tool.
    Hope you find it interesting.

    Welcome to the Weather Activity Planner. Please enter the range of weather parameters required for your activity. Then, either click the approximate location on the map below, or enter the specific latitude and longitude (or select from a list of locations) and hit submit. This will query the forecast grids to find when your weather requirements will be met at the nearest grid point over the next 7 days.

    Tip Of The Blog
    Heating Without Getting Burned
    Most home heating fires involve portable heaters and space heaters, with gas and kerosene
    heaters accounting for the highest fatality risk. But all heating systems, including fireplaces, can
    be dangerous if not used and maintained properly.
    Before buying any heating equipment, check with your local fire department to ensure what you're
    buying conforms to local building or and fire codes. When shopping for portable or space heaters,
    look for automatic shut-off safety features. All portable heaters should bear the mark of an
    independent testing laboratory indicating that the heater has met basic safety standards.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Outdoor enthusiasts I need your help.

    Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the fall with the cooler temperatures and the beauty nature has to offer this time of year. Smokey Bear asks all of you who work and play in the out-of-doors to help Prevent Wildfires. Most fires are accidental or caused by people who just are not aware that what they maybe doing has the potential to start a wildfire. Parking your vehicle on a leaf pile or in dry grass or riding your ATV through a field of dry grass may cause the hot muffler or catalytic converter to ignite the dry vegetation.
    If you are an ATV rider please take time to read the attached (page 1 and 2) of a safety reminder.

    Tip Of The Blog
    Uncontrolled fire is every camper, hiker, and forester's nightmare, and one that can become real!  What should one do if you spot smoke in the forest?  There are several answers.  The main thing to do is think rather than panic!
    Think about how far away is the fire?  Are you on a hill and see smoke billowing up in the distance?  If this is the case, pack your stuff, use your cellular telephone and call 911.  Give them your position and the direction in which you see the fire.  "I am on Round Hill and hiking towards Blue Valley, there appears to be a fire off to my right,"  Now ask for assistance! The dispatcher will tell you the location of the quickest way to safety, report the fire, and send help.  They can also tell you if it is a controlled burn of some sort, in which case there is no problem. 

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    another fall coloring sheet and pet safety

    Tip Of The Blog

    Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for people, but it can be rather scary for your pet. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe this Halloween:

    1. Keep all candy out of reach of your pet. The candy is for trick-or-treaters,
    not for your pet. The chocolate and wrappers can be very dangerous if ingested.
    2. We all know how cute pet costumes are, but they can pose a threat to
    your animal friend. Being dressed up can cause a great amount of stress
    on your pet. Also, many costumes contain rubber bands and other pieces
    that can be chewed off and create a hazard. If you do decide to dress
    your pet up, make sure that it doesn.t constrain her movement, hearing
    or ability to breathe.
    3. If you plan on having a party or get-together at your house, make sure to
    put your put up in a safe place unless he/she is a very social animal. Too
    many strangers can be a very scary and stressful environment for your

    4. During peak trick-or-treating time, you should also make sure your pet is
    put up at home in a safe place. You should not bring your pet with you to
    trick-or-treat and if you are staying at home, you do not want to run the
    risk of your pet slipping out the front door when answering the doorbell.
    5. Another important item to consider is to make sure your pet has an ID
    tag or microchip in place. In the event that he/she does escape or get
    lost, an ID increases the chance that your pet will be returned to you (this
    includes cats too!).
    6. Some other Halloween risk factors are pumpkins and decorations. If you
    have a jack-o-lantern, make sure it is in a place where your pet cannot
    get to it. The candle inside and the pumpkin itself can be dangerous for
    your pet. Pets can easily knock over a lit candle and cause a fire, curious kittens run the risk of getting burned, and if eaten, the pumpkin may cause intestinal blockage. Keep decorations that pets could chew on. like streamers and fake spider webs.and wires and cords from electric decorations out of reach. If pets chomp on Halloween decorations they could choke or become ill and, if they chew on electrical cords, they risk a potentially deadly electrical shock. Pets could also become tangled and injured by dangling cords or decorations. We do hope you all have a fun Halloween, but just remember to keep your beloved pet in mind.

    Just for the kids

    Hi "kids" Its almost Halloween which is one of my favorie ties of the year. BUT it is also a very dangerous time, leaves have fallen and the woods can dry out in a hurry. Please do not play with matches or lighters. Starting fires is NOT a innocent rank, its actually a crime. And its DANGEROUS, you may not have intended for it to get out of control and burn up someones home or injured  firefighter but that ca easily happen.
    Please join me and pledging to be fire safe this Halloween and always.

    Enjoy the coloring sheet below I will post a few more soon.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Temperatures may be dropping but the southern woods are heating up

    Virginia is fairing much better than our sister states to the west and south. Much of the southern region is entering Fall fire season in critical condition. Go to the attached link for more info.

    Also check out the Southern Region Wildfire Prevention web site at

    There is currently a Prevention Education Team working in Louisiana on the Kisatchie National Forest. The team is working with both the NF and the State. In Virginia we just finished up with a Team that produced several items that can be used as the need arises. The Team also attended community events promoting firewise and wildfire prevention. see pictures below.

    A firewise/not firewise mini house was a big hit. As were the smokey carved pumpkin.

    M.K.Hicks PET leader hands some smokey material to an eager child and his dad.

    More of the posters developed.

    The Tennessee Div of Forestry is planning on utilizing a Prevention Education Team in the eastern part of the state starting next week.

    Again check out the southern region prevention site for info on these teams and other useful prevention education info. Check back often as the site is updated regurlary when there is activity.

    What do you think about this different approach "Think Like a Wildfire"

    Tip Of The Blog
    Something as simple as a dragging chain on a trailer can cause a wildfire if conditions are just right or hould I say just wrong. Please check your trailers for any drgging chains or other metal.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Be Cautious with Fall and Winter Campfires

    I think that if you asked most people across Virginia when the most dangerous time of year is for wildfire they would say the summer. Which seems to be a logical since that is when it is the hottest.

    Actually here in Virginia spring and fall are the times when we are most concerned with wildfires. This is not implying that we can not have significant wildfires in the summer but usually those dangerous times do not last for any great length of time.
     Most of the deep south continues to deal with increased wildfires and drought conditions. The rains we have been getting every week to 10 days is welcomed and keeping our fire activity down. It will not take but  for us to miss one of these rain events to dramatically increase the potential for wildfires.

     Tip of the Blog

    Be Cautious with Fall and Winter Campfires

    Fall time is an exciting time of the year for outdoor enthusiasts.  Hunting season will soon be here.
                One of the nice things about fall hunting is building a nice campfire to heat some food, make tea or coffee or simply to warm up.
    The last thing you are probably thinking about is campfire safety when it’s this cold.  So, you pull up under the shelter of a big old tree, forcing your cold-stiffened fingers to build a fire.  The fire does the trick and you get back to enjoying the great outdoors and, in some cases, leaving your campfire to burn out on its own.
    Did you know that a fire built on peat or duff can continue to smolder a long time?  Duff is the layer of leaves, twigs, branches and other debris on the forest floor.  As it slowly decays it turns into soil.  Fires lit on these duff or peat quickly burn down into the ground and even though there is no open flame and very little smoke, they will continue to burn.
     So, if you are building campfire for food or warmth this fall or winter, here are a few tips to make your campfire safer.  Build your fire on rock, clay or sand; keep your fire small and make sure the fire you have enjoyed is dead out before you get back to whatever activity you were enjoying.    

     Firewise Campfires

    • Keep fires small.
    • Don't scar tress, living or dead, by snapping branches off.
    • Use only dead and downed wood.
    • Manage your campfire.
      • Never leave a fire unattended.
      • Don't try to burn foil-lined packets, leftover food, or other garbage that will have to be removed later.
      • Burn wood completely to ash.
      • Stop feeding the fire and give yourself and hour or more to add all the unburned stick ends.
      • Saturate the ash with water.
      • You should be able to touch the fire area with your bare hand - "DEAD OUT".
      • Scatter all the ashes widely with a small shovel or pot lid.
      • Restore the appearance of the fire site.
    • Consider using a stove instead of a campfire.
    Build fires only when conditions are right - regulations permit fires, the danger of wildfire is low, an adequate water supply is readily available, downed and dead wood is plentiful, and there is sufficient time to prepare the fire site, burn all the wood to ash, allow for cooling, and clean up. Unfortunately, campfires left unattended or not extinguished properly do start wildfires!

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Fire Weather for Today and Tip of the Blog ...Fall Firewise

    Tip of the Blog
    Firewise for Fall
    Rake and Take
    The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter, and many of us are cleaning up our homes and property for the winter. This is a great time to survey your land and take stock. Are there trees that need to be limbed? Are tall grasses leading right to your home that need to be mowed? Perhaps there is even a tree touching your home that could bring fire right to your door. Now is the time to tackle that Firewise to-do list. After you have reduced the fuels around your home, you probably have quite a bit of burnable material. Time to light the match, right? Maybe! Fall weather can provide good opportunities for safe burning. However, fall in Virginia is a time of increased wildfire danger. If you’re planning on doing any burning, check with your local officials. If there are no burning restrictions in place, select a day with little or no wind, keep your piles small and have tools and water nearby. Do you have to burn? Consider mulching your debris or other safe alternatives.


    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Happy AND Safe Halloween


              OPTION #1

    2.                 TAPE STENCIL SHEET ONTO PUMPKIN.

    OPTION #2

    1.                 TAPE THE STENCIL ONTO THE PUMPKIN.

                                                    HAPPY AND SAFE HALLOWEEN


  • Create a Smokey Bear Jack O'Lantern with this stencil and instructions (English;

  • Halloween Safety Tips (English; PDF format)

  • Halloween Safety Tips (Spanish; PDF format)

  • "Trick or Treat" Poster and Halloween Safety Card from FireWise (English; PDF format).