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Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's rained, how come we're still having wildfires?

It's dry, it's windy, it's warm and folks are careless, that's how come.
Even with the recent rains a lot of Virginia and the entire South is in the grips of a drought or drought like conditions and are just plain ol dry, deep down where it counts.

All these conditions are reasons behind the , why can we have a 500 acre fire in Dinwiddie County when it just rained recently. And if you have not been keeping up with the wildfire news from other places our friends to our south and west are having significant challanges with wildfires. And there is no real relief in sight..

Oklahoma City Deputy Fire Chief Cecil Clay said the wildfire near Spencer burned four houses, one mobile home, one recreational vehicle and five outbuildings. 04/07/2011 A red flag warning has been issued for counties in western Oklahoma

Bulldozers and airplanes have been put on alert as Texas faces an increased threat for wildfires. The Texas Forest Service says hot weather, extremely dry vegetation and widespread drought are combining to create ...

"Many drought indicators in east-central Texas have reached the 'exceptional' drought level," the Drought Monitor reports. "If rain does not materialize soon, intensification of the current drought is likely." Wildfires have also been a concern this ...

... conditions have made Oklahoma a tinder box, with crews deploying helicopters and bulldozers to keep rampant wildfires in check. A state of emergency was declared March 11 for all 77 counties, and the prolonged drought has done nothing to lift it. ...

Drought and How It Affects Wildfires

by Phillip Manuel edited by FXTurck

Climatic conditions, such as long term drought, play a major role in the number and intensity of wildfires.  The lack of rainfall, in conjunction with very warm temperatures, allowed the forest fuels, such as dead leaves, trees and branches, to become unusually dry. In addition the dry and very dry “grasses” on the grazing areas of the South and Southeast are critically susceptible to wildfire. Unlike the forests that may withstand a wildfire and NOT be totally consumes the grasses are totally consumed and will not grow back until the rains come and even then it might be to late for some farmers and their heards.

The dry forest fuels were very susceptible to the potential for fire, especially when daytime relative humidities were low and wind speeds were high.  It is important to be alert to the increased threat of wildfires during drought conditions, especially those whose home is in a forested area, or those who plan on visiting area forests. The following are some safety tips to help protect life and property from wildfires...

1. Check with local fire authorities or public land management officials to obtain current fire restriction information.

2.  For campfires, clear the campfire site down to bare soil. Circle the fire pit with rocks, and build the campfire away from overhanging branches, dry grass, pine needles, logs and steep slopes.

3. Never leave a campfire unattended. When putting out a campfire, drown the fire until it is cool enough to touch. Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby.

4. Homes near forest areas should have a defensible space of at least 30 feet, more if the home is on a slope.  Trees should be thinned 100 feet from buildings.  Remove lower tree branches, especially those that may overhang the roof.  Rake and clear surface fuels, such as leaves, limbs and pine needles, away from homes in wooded areas.  For detailed information on protecting your home from wildfires visit the Virginia DOF Firewise website

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