Videojournalist: Alana Austin
Chatham, VA -- While many are enjoying this exceptionally warm December weather, others are warning of its dangers.
It's been a very dry season with very little rainfall. Leaves have been piling up and along with the drought, Virginia Department of Forestry officials have seen a spike in fires across the state.
Officials have a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe. Hot ashes from wood stoves should never be dumped, so wait until they're cool to the touch.
Also, be careful with cigarettes because if a butt is left in the mulch or on the ground it can be dangerous.
"If you are burning, make sure it's out. Never leave a fire unattended. Before you burn leaves or burn a brush pile, make sure you have a water source," said Drew Arnn, Area Forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Officials do not anticipate a break in the drought, which they say is even more reason to be on alert.