(WWBT) - Some counties have decided to lift burn bans that were in place due to changing weather conditions.
Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties lifted their burn bans starting at 4 p.m. on Oct. 16.
“During Fall Fire Season of October 15 – November 30, everyone is reminded that even with the improved weather conditions, the county remains in a higher potential for forest lands, brush lands, and field fires and should continue to use caution as a fire can start from something as simple as the improper disposal of a cigarette, the burning of brush in a back yard or a camp fire,” Hanover fire officials said.
All open burning has been prohibited in Colonial Heights and Dinwiddie, Louisa, Goochland and Powhatan counties due to dry conditions.
Area officials said that drought conditions have been observed in forests, brush and fields in the county, creating an “extraordinary” fire hazard.
“We take citizen safety and the protection of property very seriously,” said Keith Greene, Louisa County chief of Fire and Emergency Services. “Responsible practices are critical to ensuring both.”
The Hanover Fire Department has responded to several brush fires recently and the county administrator issued the ban. The fire marshal issued the Chesterfield ban due to similarly dry conditions.
The ban makes it illegal to burn brush, grass, leaves, trash, debris or any other flammable material. The ban will be in effect until it is lifted due to a change in conditions.
Recreational fires have not been banned in Chesterfield, but are strongly discouraged.
Colonial Heights will continue to monitor the weather and recommendation from the Department of Forestry on when the ban can be lifted.
Dinwiddie fire officials are also reminding citizens to be mindful of any other potential ignition source.
Powhatan officials say the ban is in effect until atmospheric and dry conditions are decreased.
The Virginia Department of Forestry issued a warning about fires earlier in October as no significant rain fell over the weekend.
“This is one of the driest falls we’ve seen in Virginia during the past 20 years,” said State Forester Rob Farrell in a news release. “The potential for an increased number of fires and more complex fires is significant.”
Phil Manuel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg, says many areas of the state have gone almost a month without much rain.
"The short term forecast (6-10 days) indicates a continuation of this dry spell and the long-range through the end of October does not look much better,” he said.
As of Oct. 7, more than two dozen localities enacted burn bans.
”Placing restrictions on burning is not a task easily taken by the county government, but if this prevents a single wildfire from occurring, it will be worth it,” said VDOF Director of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller.
VDOF urges anyone without restrictions in place to not burn on windy days, keep burn piles small, have water nearby and to not leave any fire unattended.
“How this season turns out remains to be seen,“ said Farrell, “but the potential for a severe fire season is very real."
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