11-19-12 Dry conditions concern foresters

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A forest fire charred nearly 1,000 acres in Boone County over the weekend into Monday, according to state news sources.

Charlie Spencer with the Division of Forestry says the blaze wasn’t man-made.

“It was started from an underground mine fire where the coal seam is on fire and it caught the woods on fire,” Spencer said.

Foresters and firefighters spent the weekend trying to contain the blaze which is in a very remote area. There are no structures nearby and none are in danger. Spencer says they hope to get the forest fire under control in the next couple of days. He says they started out using their usual methods to fight the flames.

“Our biggest tools are leaf-blowers and rakes,” Spencer said. “What we do is go in remove the fuel source, which in most cases is the leaves on the ground.”

But once this fire started gobbling up acres, Spencer says they had to bring in something a little larger to keep the flames from spreading.

“In the case of this fire, we had to bring in a dozer because there were a lot of trees down from the derecho back in the summer and from Hurricane Sandy this fall,” Spencer said. “We had to remove some of those trees with dozers.”

There’s concern about more forest fires over the next few days. The state hasn’t seen any considerable precipitation since a week ago Monday. According to the National Weather Service, we’re not going to see any rain until at least Friday.

“We’re getting some really cold temperatures at night and we’re having frost in the morning. That’s helping out keeping things from getting too bad,” Spencer said. “But in the middle of the day, when it gets warmer, we definitely have high fire danger potential.”

Spencer’s advice for anyone thinking about burning brush in the near future — don’t. But he says if it is absolutely necessary, there are a few things you need to remember.

“If you do burn, it has to be safety stripped with a 10-foot dirt ring around it. Someone has to remain with it at all times. And the fire has to be out by 7 a.m.,” he said.

Fall Forest Fire season runs through the end of the year.

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