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VDOF urging caution as Virginia's wildfire season begins

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - Virginia's fall wildfire season begins Sunday, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry.

The season runs through November 30.

Forestry officials are asking people to be extra careful with matches, bonfires, mechanical equipment, and anything that could cause a wildfire during this time.

They say hot, dry, and windy conditions have fueled wildfires in California.

The Virginia Department of Forestry says emergency response equipment and personnel are in an increased state of readiness.

“Before the rain this week, it had been more than 30 days since any measurable precipitation fell on the Commonwealth,” said Fred Turck, VDOF’s wildfire prevention manager. “That has us very concerned because when things are very dry they tend to burn much more quickly. And that makes battling a resulting wildfire that much harder and puts lives and property at risk,” he said.

Officials say over 96 percent of wildfires in Virginia are caused by human activity, and most can be prevented if people ensure fire doesn't escape their control.

“Weather plays a critical role in wildfire,” Turck said. “Before you light your fire, make sure winds are less than 15 miles per hour and that the relative humidity level is above 35 percent. If the conditions aren’t right, please don’t ignite.”

They say people burning trash or debris is the number one cause of wildfires in Virginia.

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