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Dry Conditions Fueling Brush Fires Statewide

Reported: Mar. 24, 2014 10:31 PM EDT
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TORNADO, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) The West Virginia Forestry Service says it's been responding to too many brush fires. In fact just this weekend, 54 fires burned, scorching more than 1800 acres.

There was a reminder of how quickly flames can wreak havoc on land in Tornado Monday. It's actually the second time there's been a brush fire in that area in just the past two weeks. Neighbors and firefighters now say this should be a warning to be careful and follow the rules when it comes to burning.

"My grandson saw the smoke and hollered there was a fire over to the pond," said Garrell Bentley of Tornado.

That's when Bentley called 911. Fearing the fire would race so fast it would destroy he and his neighbor's homes, the Bentley family went to work trying to stop the flames from spreading.

"We used rakes, shovels and everything we could to try to put it out," Bentley said.

As firefighters got to work, the fire proved quite a challenge. Just when smoke started to clear, new flames would spark up.

Firefighters say it's a challenge because it's so incredibly dry it doesn't take much for one spark to spread and just a little bit of wind fans the flames.

Even the moisture in the forecast probably won't help lower the fire risk.

"Unfortunately, even with this clears, we're going to go right back to the dry leaves and chaff that'll easily ignite," said Edward Leach, safety officer with the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department.

Neighbors in Tornado think someone might've set the fire there Monday afternoon on purpose.

But a lot of times, firefighters say this kind of situation is the result of irresponsible brush burning.

"If you're trying to burn brush, which is the only legal thing to burn, is only burning in the evening and at night. There's no burning in the daytime, and this is why," said Leach.

If you do need to burn at night., leave at least 10 feet of clear space around your burn pile. Have water on hand, along with a rake and shovel so you can quickly put out any flames



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