Spring Wildfire Hazard Season starts in Kentucky

wildfire ecology
Posted at 7:15 AM, Feb 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-19 07:16:18-05

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF) announced last week the beginning of the Spring Wildfire Hazard Season. The season lasts until April 30.

The law prohibits any person from burning between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.

The KDF urges residents across the state to exercise caution when burning debris, and to consider all factors to help maximize the safety of people, property and the forest.

“There is more moisture in the soil compared to last fall when we were in a drought, but the leaves and fuel on the ground quickly dry on sunny, windy days,” said Division of Forestry Director/State Forester Brandon Howard. “In many areas we are still recovering from last year’s natural disasters which have resulted in more fuel if a wildfire occurs. We ask that if debris burning occurs, take proper precautions to prevent fires from escaping and becoming wildfires. And as always, report any suspected arson activity to local law enforcement.”

The division responds to more than 1,000 wildfires annually across the state. Partners such as the Daniel Boone National Forest and local fire departments also respond to several wildfires.

March and April are typically high wildfire occurrence months, but the division reports it has already responded to 116 wildland fires since January 1. The KDF estimates the majority of the wildfires have been a result of outdoor debris burning and arson.

Forestry officials say taking extra precautions with debris fires and campfires and being alert to forest arson can eliminate the majority of wildfires that occur in Kentucky.

The KDF offers the following suggestions to residents:

  • Be aware of all outdoor burning restrictions, including forest fire hazard seasons, air pollution regulations, restrictions imposed by local ordinances, and county burn bans. The Division for Air Quality has many outdoor burning restrictions. More information can be found at Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.
  • Avoid burning debris during fire hazard seasons and during times of dry, windy conditions. Outdoor burning is illegal between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. in or within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland during forest wildfire hazard seasons.
  • Incorporate “Firewise” practices around homes and communities in forested areas, which includes creating a defensible space around homes by removing leaves, debris, and firewood. More information is available at Kentucky Firewise.
  • Report suspicious acts of arson to local law enforcement, the nearest Kentucky State Police post or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.
  • If you are burning agriculture residue and forestland litter, a fire line should be plowed around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Before beginning any burning in a wooded area, contact your KDF county forest ranger who will weigh all factors, explain them, and offer advice.

More information on wildfire prevention along with a map of local KDF field offices, can be found at KDF.