Lynchburg - VA The abnormally dry weather has forced the Virginia Department of Forestry to extend the Fall Fire Season to December 10. Normally, the fire season ends by December 1.
In November, the department responded to a total of 73 fires, which burned 1,133 acres.
Firefighters have expressed concerns about keeping fires under control once they start, and preventing more fires from starting and getting out of control easily. They say there is still a large amount of potential "fuel" (brush, leaves, and dead trees) that could make for larger fires if people aren't careful when burning.
More than 95% of wildfires that flare up in the commonwealth result from people who aren't as cautious as they should be when burning outdoors.
Recently, a fire on Bent Mountain in Roanoke County was determined to have started from someone throwing out ashes that they thought were cold. Anything that has burned may stay hot for a longer period of time than you realize, so it's very important to be extra cautious.
Just flipping a cigarette that you think is out could start a fire in a trash can or on the side of the road or sidewalk when it's this dry.
"Looking ahead into December, we don't see a significant break in the overall rainfall pattern and are, therefore, planning for continued fire activity," said John Miller, director of resource protection at VDOF. "Extending our readiness level beyond fire season helps ensure our personnel availability for emergency fire response heading into early December."
The VDOF will conduct weekly evaluations of conditions to see if additional extensions are needed.
Low relative humidity, high winds and outdoor activities all help to increase the risk of wildfires this time of the year.