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With an increased amount of downed limbs and brush following recent storms, officials are reminding Kentucky that forest fire hazard season is now under way.
One of the leading causes of forest fires in Kentucky is fire accidentally escaping when people burn trash or unwanted material.
Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, urges Kentucky residents to be extremely careful this fire season if they burn storm debris and to follow state and local laws.
"With the public's help, wildfires can be prevented and we don't want storm debris to spread to the woods," she said.
Kentucky law designates Feb. 15 through April 30 as spring forest fire hazard season. During this time, it is illegal to burn anything within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The burning law is intended to prevent fires by allowing burning only during the time when conditions are less likely to cause the spread of fire.
Typically, winds are calmer and humidity is higher from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. While burning is allowed during these hours, no one should burn unless the air is calm and there is adequate moisture in the air to prevent the spread of fire. It is illegal to start a fire any time of the year on or near timberland without taking all reasonable precautions to prevent it from spreading.
Remember to check local ordinances, state air quality and state waste management regulations before conducting any outdoor burning. The Division for Air Quality has many outdoor burning restrictions and should be contacted at (888) BURN-LAW.
Arson is another leading cause of forest fires in Kentucky. Deliberately setting fire to the forest is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Forest arson can be reported by calling (800) 27-ARSON.
For more information regarding fire hazard seasons and burning laws, contact the Kentucky Division of Forestry at (502) 564-4496 or visit the division's Web site at www.forestry.ky.gov/programs/firemanage.