The Director of Fire-Rescue, Edward Fuzy, is advising the public that the lack of rainfall is putting local forestry and fire officials on alert. They are bracing for what could be a very rough fall fire season.
“Looking around, you can’t help but to see how dry it is outside and the dryness makes the area more susceptible to brush and forest fires. The drought conditions, that Virginia is experiencing, have created an extremely hazardous environment” according to Art Singer, Volunteer Fire Chief of Sparta VFD.
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, the fire occurrence conditions in Caroline are at a very high level. This means that fires start readily, spread quickly, their resistance to control is high, and there is the potential for large fires.
Fire officials are asking the public to be a little more cautious – consider not burning unless absolutely necessary! “Keep your fire supervised at all times. Make sure you have your fire contained before you ever get started by raking a line around it, make sure the fuel is away from it and stay with the fire until it is fully extinguished, and pay special attention to where the embers may go” said Fuzy.
Citizens are requested to completely extinguish smoking materials before discarding them.
Any signs of a fire, including brush or woods fires, should be reported immediately by calling 911. Grasses and brush are particularly vulnerable to rapid fire spread. Keep all debris away from houses and open structures.
Below are some additional tips for helping prevent wild fires from the Virginia Department of Forestry website: www.dof.virginia.gov.
Fire Safety Precautions:
- Have a cleared area at least 30-feet wide around all structures.
- Homes built in pine forests should have a minimum 75-foot clearance.
- Have properly designed driveways that will accommodate firefighting equipment.
- The house address should be clearly displayed.
- Keep leaves and debris cleared from under decks and porches so that they will not be set on fire by blowing sparks and embers.
- Roofs should be of fire-resistant materials. Remove pine needles and leaves from the roof and gutters so that they will not be set on fire by blowing sparks and embers.
- Have outside water spigots and at least 100 feet of garden type hose readily accessible for fire control until the fire department arrives.
- Should the situation become life-threatening or an evacuation order is given by fire officials, leave immediately. Do not return until fire officials have given an all-clear message.
- Dispose of ashes and charcoal briquettes in a metal container and allow them to stay in the container for at least 48 hours. Do not dump hot ashes on the ground.
- Never store flammable material like firewood or lumber under or near your home. Keep it at least 100 feet away from the house, but never uphill because burning material will roll.
- Hand tools such as rakes, shovels, and axes should be readily available along with a ladder that will reach your roof.
For more information, contact the office of Fire-Rescue & Emergency Management at (804)633-9831.