Over 100 Forest Fires in West Virginia Due to Dry & Windy Conditions

by S. Tom Bond on November 8, 2023

The Governor should issue a ban on open burning, but has not so far ….

Forest fires rage across the WV amid wind and dry conditions

From an Article by Chris Lawrence, WV Metro News, November 6, 2023

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The low humidity, warmer temperatures, and the steady wind in recent days has turned the West Virginia forest and the new leaf litter on the forest floor into a potential tinder box.

As of Monday, the West Virginia Division of Forestry reported more than 100 forest fires in the state and Deputy State Forester Tony Evans believed the number was well beyond.

“Over the weekend we’ve had so many fires that have popped up, we definitively know we have more than that,” said Evans. Some of the fires were large in scale.

“We have several big fires. One down in McDowell County is several hundred acres. Raleigh County’s got a big fire Kanawha has a couple. Boone County has several fires that are going to be several hundred acres, same thing with Mingo County,” he explained.

According to Evans, the Southern West Virginia topography lends itself well to a wildfire and they tend to get out of control faster in the steep hills of the coalfields than in other parts of the state. The terrain also makes them more difficult to put out.

The fires are so widespread, Evans said they are asking people to stop calling 911 with just reports of seeing or smelling smoke. Since those kind of reports are too vague to help pinpoint a fire. “Unless they see an actual fire or a big column of smoke coming up from a specific place, don’t call 911 just if they are seeing or smelling smoke in the air,” he explained..

The Kanawha County Commission penned a letter to the Division of Forestry asking for a total burning ban until some measurable rainfall comes. Evans said that decision would have to come from the Governor’s office.

The fall forest fire rules are in effect, meaning that any outdoor burning must be done between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. However, under the present conditions, Evans said use common sense.

“You know if it’s dry and windy, wait until we get some moisture. It doesn’t take very much for the wind to pick up an ember and put it out into the woods or dry grass and we have a forest fire,” he said.

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Matt Cassada November 10, 2023 at 12:49 am

Smoke from wildfires can affect your health, so how can you stay safe?

From Matt Cassada Posted: Nov 8, 2023

Beaver, WV (WVNS) – Southern West Virginia continues to see wildfires spring up around the region. At Grandview State Park, people were taking in the sights and sounds of the wildfires.

Even while safely away from the fires, the smoke can still cause issues. New Jersey resident Nikki Karas said the event reminds her of when wildfire smoke swept through the northeast this past summer.

“It’s definitely harder to breathe, the air quality is definitely not the best. I personally had a headache yesterday from it but it’s definitely making it difficult to breathe,” Karas said.

The air quality isn’t just affecting visitors, it’s also affecting locals. West Virginia has some of the highest cases of black lung and COPD, and the smoke can negatively affect those individuals.

Breathing in the smoke can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, and fatigue.

While these cases are prevalent in elderly people, WVU Tech nursing student Hanna Payne said smoke can also affect younger people. “We have the Annex building, which is further away from the rest of campus. Some students have to walk all the way over so by the time you get over there and breathe in all of this smoke, I’m sure it would be hard to breathe, especially for people who have conditions like asthma,” Payne said.

As for what you can do to stay healthy, Payne has some advice. She says to always monitor the latest air quality alerts before going outside. She also says to look after friends or family who suffer from breathing issues.

This statement is true for New Jersey resident Keeyahtay Lewis, who said his own mother would have trouble with the smoke. “If you have breathing problems, you have emphysema, you have COPD or something like that, there’s certain areas that you definitely want to avoid. You can see it when you start driving into it, you can see it change and you can see the fog,” Lewis said.

Hanna Payne says if you suffer from breathing issues, the safe bet is to stay inside. But if you need to head outside, make sure to have an inhaler on you or contact your primary care physician.



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