ODNR URGES EXTRA CAUTION TO AVOID WILDFIRES
Area of greatest concern lies south of state Route 50 between Marietta and Cincinnati
COLUMBUS, OH – Months of consistently dry weather have increased the incidence of wildfires across the state, but especially in the far south where the traditional fall wildfire season arrived early.
“More than 40 wildfires have broken out since July 1 in Pike, Scioto, Jackson, Lawrence and Gallia counties alone,” said Mike Bowden, wildfire control specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry. “That’s an uncharacteristically high number for this time of year.”
As a result, ODNR urges residents, as well as people traveling in the state, to take special care in avoiding activities that could spark a wildfire.
A carelessly discarded cigarette, an improperly monitored campfire or trash fire, or even the backfiring of a lawn mower can grow into a wildfire that burns hundreds of acres and destroys homes and businesses, Bowden cautioned.
Ohio traditionally experiences about 800 wildfires each year, generally the result of human carelessness. These fires destroy an average of 4,500 acres of trees and grasslands. Foresters are especially concerned this year because the unusually hot, dry summer left woods and grasslands (and the structures near them) vulnerable to destructive blazes.
“We could see a wildfire season rivaling those of 1987 and 1999 when drought conditions led to record numbers of fires,” Bowden said. “During each of those two years, about 1,400 fires burned more than 8,000 acres.”
The state’s seasonal outdoor burning rules go into effect next week. From October 1 to November 30, it is illegal to burn debris outdoors between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. During other times, extreme caution should be used when burning anything outdoors.
Here are a few tips for wildfire prevention:
- Never leave any kind of fire (indoors or outdoors) unattended
- Do not burn within 200 feet of any woodland, brushy area or field of dry grass
- Use a proper burning container or barrel with a lid
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case the fire escapes containment
- Never attempt to extinguish a full-blown wildfire alone; contact the nearest law enforcement office or fire department
Additional wildfire prevention information is available from the ODNR Division of Forestry Web site.
For Additional Information, Contact:
Mike Bowden, Division of Forestry
Jane Beathard, ODNR Media Relations