Dry weather increasing risk of wildfire in the Valley

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) — Even though fall wildfire season doesn't officially start until October 15, fire officials say you still need to be extremely cautious with outdoor burning.

WHSV file image from a wildfire.

So far this month, the area over-all has received very little rain, and the dry weather is expected to continue. Some spots are now in a minor drought. As shrubs, leaves, and grasses dry out- which is typical in the fall, our risk of wildfire increases. Fire officials say bonfires are the most common way that accidental fires start this time of year. It's important to be extremely cautious of outdoor fires getting out of control.

"The weather is getting a little bit cooler, so people are outside having bonfires, roasting hot dogs, having s'mores that type of thing. And then whenever they get done they don't put their fires all the way out" said Lieutenant Michael Boyle with the Waynesboro Fire Department.

Boyle says it's easier than you think for a small fire to get out of control and start a wildfire. That's why he recommends using a spark arrestor for your fire- that's a which is wire netting which can keep sparks from flying. You should also always have an extinguisher nearby.

When you're done with the fire, even though it may look like it's out, it could still be burning on the inside.

"Once the fire is out for the most part, then you need to move the materials around to get to the seed of it so that you're putting all the embers out and the burning material on the bottom."

Dry air strong winds make it extremely dangerous to burn, especially when fire fuels like grass and shrubs are dry like they are now.
Boyle says to always check the weather before burning outdoors.