Dry weather and outdoor cooking: Be aware of possible fire hazards

By Tom Patton - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - July fourth is one of the most popular family holidays, with large family gatherings that include outdoor cooking. With that in mind, fire officials remind us that with the dry conditions, we need to take precautions and "watch what we heat".

Wooded areas, dry building materials, decks, and houses are all potential kindling from fireworks and outdoor cooking during dry weather conditions. Grills pose problems when they are too close to the house.

"Grease escapes out; grease fires occur and cause a fire which get to the wood deck or wood structure of the house, that's the vulnerability  that what we need to watch for when we're outside cooking," said Chesterfield Fire Department Lt. Matt Coffin.

According to the U.S. drought monitor there are no drought conditions anywhere in Virginia, just slightly dry in parts of southeast Virginia.  Rainfall in the Richmond area since March 1 and through the early growing season has been above average with over 15" of rain. So the ground is in good shape, but this time of year it can quickly change.

Now granted many areas had a big rainfall Wednesday night. Over 1" in parts of Hanover, and 1/4-1/2" in Henrico and Chesterfield. But the sun angle is so high this time of year that it only takes 2-3 days of sunshine to promote dry conditions again.

And by Independence Day the ground will have seen 2-3 days of sun

"But what we want to remind people is with their cooking with their outdoor activities with the dry weather and the fact that the rain received will be evaporating by July 4, to be very careful with what they do outdoors," said Coffin.

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