HAZARD — This is an update on forest fires in our region as of Nov. 21. The information in this update was provided by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.
One hundred counties in Kentucky currently have complete burn bans. Arrests have been made in McCreary County, Harlan County, Letcher County, and Wayne County for violations of the burn bans and for arson. Links to information on all of these are on the KDF Facebook. If you live in a county with a burn ban, all open outdoor burning is illegal. If you see anybody burning illegally, call 911. If you do not live in a county with a burn ban, fall forest fire hazard statutes still apply. Burning between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. within 150 feet of a woodland is illegal.
There are 19 uncontrolled fires as of Nov. 21 in the Southeast Region. There are approximately 12,606 acres of uncontrolled fires in the Southeast Region.
No rain is forecasted until Wednesday morning, when there is a 60 to 80 percent chance of 0.10-0.25”expected in the afternoon to evening. Light rain showers remain possible on Thanksgiving morning. Low humidity levels on Monday (25 to 35 percent) and Tuesday (20 to 30 percent) with higher humidity levels late Wednesday and through the weekend. Winds will remain less than 10 mph for the next several days. Throughout this forest fire event, winds have been very low, under 5 mph. Most of Kentucky is in a severe drought, with a portion of the lowest part of the region in an extreme drought.
There are a total of 4 Blackhawk helicopters available for water drops on fires as of Nov. 21 with 2 additional Lakota helicopter that are being used to spot. These resources are from the National Guard.
The Department of Mine Safety has 50 personnel assisting the region with logistical support, they will be demobilized on Nov. 22. An 18 person crew from the Kentucky Fire Commission will have their final day on assignment today. The fire commission is comprised of a mix of volunteer and full time fire departments that are working three day assignments. There are approximately a total of 400 personnel assisting with operations, including fulltime and seasonal KDF employees, Mine Safety and Fire Commission Personnel.
The Daniel Boone National Forest and the Kentucky Division of Forestry have assembled a Wildfire Prevention and Education Team, stationed out of Hazard. Their focus will be to educate the public and raise awareness about the above normal fire danger across Eastern Kentucky, the importance of respecting county burn bans, public health and safety, and Firewise principles for residents. This is a four person team and the team leader is Jim Funk, 502-545-1481. The team email address is [email protected]
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.