RADFORD – The lack of recent rain has lawns looking a bit brown these days, and has also led to dangerous conditions for fire risk.
In reaction to those dry conditions,the City of Radford implemented a ban on open burning. The ban took effect at midnight on Wednesday and will remain in effect until further notice.
“The ban is warranted due to the extremely dry conditions of the ground and forest canopy, as well as an extended forecast with no signs of precipitation,” said Radford Public Information Coordinator Jenni Wilder. “These restrictions apply to any burning of debris, campfires, burn barrels, or pits.”
According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, “95 percent of all wildfires in Virginia are human-caused and more than half are caused by people burning trash and yard debris.”
Radford Fire fighter Steve Spangler recently addressed Radford City Council about creating a wildfire mitigation plan for the city. Spangler has only been with the city fire department a short time but has 25 years of experience in wildfire fighting. Spangler pointed out several areas in the city where wildfires could be an issue, due to the combination of forests and a lack of ingress and egress.
“We have some neighborhoods where there is only one way in and one way out so we want to create defensible spaces around properties in those areas, clearing brush and debris,” said Spangler. “We are looking into grant options to help out with that.”
“We may not have had a wildfire here before, but it only takes one event,” he added. “A wildfire will create a lot of smoke, a lot of confusion.”
Montgomery County has also issued a burn ban.
“Open-air burning includes but is not limited to: campfires, burning of brush from gardens and lawns, and any type burning in a barrel,” according to a statement from the county. “In addition, residents should be aware that machinery, including lawn mowers and grain harvesting equipment, could cause a spark, or be a source of intense heat, such as a vehicle exhaust system.”
“With the recent hot temperatures, rainfall has been quickly absorbed and evaporated,” the statement continued. “It is out of concern for residents’ safety that the open-air burn ban has been initiated. Even the smallest fire can quickly spread due to the dry conditions. Residents located in and around wooded areas should use extreme caution. Fire spreads rapidly and can consume a significant area in a very short time.”
“Residents should be aware of the increased danger for wildfires and take proper precautions,” said Montgmery County Emergency Services Coordinator Neal Turner. “The burn ban prohibits burning trash or debris and open campfires.”