‘We’re always ready’: Firefighters prepare for potential wildfires

Central Virginia is at a higher risk of wildfires on Saturday
Saturday's combination of low humidity, a breeze, and no recent rainfall brings a fire risk to Central Virginia.
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Conditions are dangerously dry and now our area is at risk of potential fires to pop up Saturday.

Firefighters across Central Virginia are getting ready now so if there is a fire they can respond quickly.

“We’re always ready for it and that’s why we check all year round,” Chesterfield Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Sal Luciano said.

Firefighters are ready to respond to any potential fires that may come our way.

“Tomorrow morning, we will evaluate conditions in Chesterfield County, and if it’s a Class 4 or higher day, we will upstaff certain resources to include brush trucks that can access certain brush fires, tankers to bring water to those sites, and we will hire back more staffing,” Luciano said.

Luciano said Saturday’s combination of low humidity, a breeze, and no rainfall could cause concern.

Most recently, their team battled to contain a large mulch fire where the weather played a significant role.

“That day, the wind was a factor as well, so you get something that’s typically a small fire, a smolder, will spread rapidly with the wind blowing,” Luciano said.

Chesterfield, along with Henrico and Richmond, are standing by, ready to have extra staff and equipment on hand, making sure their firefighters are hydrated and that their equipment is ready to go.

NBC12 Meteorologist Andrew Frieden said while we don’t expect anything major, there could be a chance for a fire in certain areas.

“But there could be in some suburban and rural spots, I could see down by some train tracks, a fire could get sparked,” Frieden said. “Next to an interstate, and then firefighters would get out and try to contain it so it doesn’t spread to neighborhoods, so Richmond is not going to burn tomorrow, but there’s a concern that there could be some brush fires that could be started in and around town.”

Both Luciano and Frieden said the key to prevention is all of us.

“If your lawnmower is overheating and sparking a little bit, that could start a fire,” Frieden said. “Sometimes tractor trailers and rigs ... could have a chain that drags on the ground that could spark on the highway. You just have to be really cautious and think, ‘How can I today get through my job and responsibilities without starting a fire?’” Frieden said. “I think that’s how people should think about the day tomorrow.”

There is a burn ban in effect within the city of Richmond, as well as Lousia and Goochland counties. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has also implemented a complete burn ban on any open burning west of Interstate 95.