Wild fire

In this November 2016 file photo, a wildfire burns in the Lovingston area of Nelson County. 

Gov. Ralph Northam last week announced the start of fall wildfire season in Virginia, which runs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 each year.

The Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Virginia Department of Fire Programs have been ramping up for what could be one of the most severe fire seasons in many years.

“Due to extended periods of below average rainfall, dry weather conditions, and record-high temperatures across our Commonwealth, most of Virginia faces an increased risk of wildfires this fall,” Northam said in a news release. “We all have a responsibility to do our part to prevent wildfires, and now is the time for Virginians learn about how they can reduce wildfire risks and ensure the safety of their homes, families, and communities.”

VDOF stresses the importance of taking extreme caution with anything that may cause a wildfire.

“Because more than 95 percent of wildfires in Virginia are caused by human activity, most can be prevented if people take care to ensure their debris burning or campfire does not escape their control,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring in the release. “People burning trash or debris remains the number-one cause of wildfires in Virginia. In addition to observing all local burning restrictions, residents can also take a number of steps to help protect property and lives across the state.”

Steps for preventing wildfires and protecting lives and property include:

» Don’t burn on windy days.

» Before you light your fire, make sure winds are less than 10 miles per hour and that the relative humidity level is above 35%.

» If the conditions aren’t right, please don’t ignite.

Keep your burn piles small.

» Have water and tools nearby.

» Never leave your fire unattended.

» Postpone any burning until conditions improve.

» If you are burning, and your fire escapes, call 911 immediately.

“The Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Virginia Department of Fire Programs are prepared to support the Virginia Department of Forestry’s efforts to respond to fire emergencies and can provide resources to Virginians who may be impacted by wildfires,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in the release. “I would also urge the public to take extra precautions during this year’s wildfire season.”

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Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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