Fire and Drought

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

With vegetation dried out, fires can spread faster and farther and will be much harder to contain.

"As it is we've had an unusually active summer fire season as well, which is unique for this area," said Steve Seltzner of the US Forest Service. "We attribute that to the drought conditions."

Smoke coming off the mountains hasn't been unusual for Rockingham County this summer. Helicopters dumped thousands of gallons of water on those fires. With the drought, finding that water could become a concern.

"The water levels are low. We feel like we have enough water available to us for fire suppression," added Seltzner. "But until we get some significant rain fall, we're worried about that as well."

Barbara Stewart of the National Park Service says if the usual watering holes don't have enough water, they will find it somewhere else. She says it's more than just the water when it comes to fighting a forest fire. Seltzner agrees.

"You've got the ground forces in there, hand crews, engine crews that need to go in and construct hand lines along side bulldozers to build a fireline," said Seltzner.

Though lightening starts a lot of forest fires, Seltzner says the Forestry Service needs you to be vigilant while enjoying the outdoors.

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