Officials push following of fire regulations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

WAYNE NATIONAL FOREST — Recent local brush fires have led the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to issue stern warnings to residents about the seriousness of obeying the rules and regulations of outdoor burning.

Burning is prohibited during daylight hours — 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the months of March, April and May. Those who do not comply will be subject to fines.

“This is really a dangerous time,” said Greg Smith, ODNR forestry program administrator. “During the burn ban times there is lower humidity and right now the grasses and the leaves have not really greened up yet, which means they are more apt to burn.”

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Winds are also a factor during this time of year, Smith said.

After 6 p.m., conditions are less volatile and fires are less likely to start and spread as violently.

In southern Ohio, where there is an abundance of forest land, Smith said the area is especially vulnerable.

“People choosing to burn outdoors must take all reasonable precautions to prevent a fire from escaping control,” said John Broke, chief of the Division of Forestry. “The recent rash of wildfires in Southern Ohio is a prime example of how critical it is that outdoor burns be attended until safely extinguished.”

Dorka said to remember the ABCs of fire prevention: Always Be Careful.

Smith said this year’s fire season has not been anything out of the ordinary. In fact, it’s been average except for the extreme recent blazes in national forests in Southern Ohio, most notably Wayne National Forest.

During the past month, fires have wreaked havoc in the forest. In Aid Township, more that 350 acres burned.

Another fire near Lake Vesuvius burned about 60 acres. The most serious fire was in the Five Forks area, where more than 100 firefighters from across the country were called in to assist on the ground and by air in water-dumping helicopters.

Forestry officials said the ice storm of 2003 isn’t helping the current situation. The storm brought down trees, limbs and other debris in the areas and has added to the difficulty of fighting fires.

Smith said most of the fires are unintentional, but are still caused by human carelessness. Burning trash without proper supervision and putting out cigarettes in dry areas are the leading causes of forest fires. Very few fires are caused by natural means such as lightening strikes.

“Residents can help protect lives and property by being aware of the hazards of burning and the precautions they can take,” Smith said.