Current Conditions Increase Chances of Wildfires

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- You could be at a higher risk of having a wildfire near your home due to the of dry and windy conditions in the area.

One way to prevent forest fires is by checking your wood stove ashes before throwing them away.

Boyd Ritchie enjoys living near the woods; however, that can keep him busy, especially on a day with strong winds and low humidity, a day with a high fire risk.

"I make sure there are no leaves around my buildings," said Ritchie.

He knows to keep leaves at least 30 feet away, as dry leaves and dead trees could help a forest fire spread.

Ritchie works for the Virginia Department of Forestry, so he knows what to do, but other homeowners may not.

"I don't do anything special about the fires, we feel pretty well protected," said Jim Campbell, who lives near a forest. "It's residential around here but it could move pretty good. I don't think it is anything like California fires."

But on a day like Thursday, fires could spread quickly.

"Even a small fire and theoretically even a spark could start a fire and it could be very hard to control," said Joe Lehnen, who works for the Virginia Department of Forestry.

As a forester, he said the main concern is trees falling on top of power lines and starting a fire.

"On a windy day like today catching the fire is certainly a challenge," said Lehnen

A challenge fire crews in Rockingham County had to deal with four times Wednesday night.

Conditions are still pretty dry which is why the Department of Forestry recommends not to burn anything in the next few days or at least until it rains.

Also, from now until April 30, it is illegal to burn anything before 4 p.m. in Virginia.


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