Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Western Virginia Faces Very High Threat (Class 4 of 5) of Wildfires Today

Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) have raised the wildfire threat level to Class 4 (Very High) for the western 1/3 of the state. Conditions (above-average temperatures, low humidity and elevated winds) were already ripe for wildfires during the past four days – and a number of fires burned several hundred acres over the weekend – but with temperatures expected to approach 90 degrees today, the threat level increased from Class 3 High on Monday to Class 4 Very High today.

Under Class 4 conditions, fires start easily from all causes (including cigarettes tossed out car windows) and spread rapidly and with great intensity. Fires that burn in light fuels, such as grass, pine needles, leaves and twigs, may quickly develop high-intensity characteristics, including long-distance spot fires and fire whirlwinds, normally associated with fires in heavier fuels. Outdoor burning of any kind is not recommended during Class 4 conditions. And the state’s 4 p.m. Burning Law remains in effect.

“The threat to life and property is very high,” said Ed Stoots, regional forester for Western Virginia. “We had several large fires over the weekend and the conditions are even worse now.”

Wildfires are dangerous and should be fought only by trained professionals. Call 911 as soon as a fire is beyond your control. The life you save might be your own.

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