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Brush Fires Continue To Be A Concern

Reported: Apr. 14, 2014 9:33 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 14, 2014 10:18 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, W.Va.
(Kera Mashek) A brush fire is finally starting to fizzle out in Fayette County, but even still, the fire fears aren't going away.

"Smoke and fire all evening. Been watching it all night and still watching it right now," said Gordon Lewis of Montgomery.

Gordon Lewis can't keep his eyes off the mountainside near Montgomery, where a massive brush fire has come dangerously close to his home.

Even with the fire considered contained as of Monday night, Lewis is still worried piles of tree debris left behind from recent road work could ignite and create a much bigger problem.

"If it gets in that brush up there, it'll be almost impossible to fight," Lewis said.

Creating more cause for concern, Lewis is also fighting black lung disease. The smoky air makes it harder to breathe, and his home is full of flammable oxygen tanks.

"If flames get close to it, yeah, any oxygen tanks will explode if they get in the fire," said Lewis.

Even as the smoke clears from the fire in Fayette County, neighbors are still concerned since it's just the start for the fire season.

In fact, the West Virginia Division of Forestry has already worked on 200 brush fires this spring, leaving those near the Fayette fire hoping for a little relief from mother nature.

"I'm just praying for more rain!" Lewis said.

Unfortunately, even with a little moisture, there will still be an elevated fire risk.

"In spring, humidities drop very fast and temperatures rise very quickly and the winds are erratic. So those three things together makes fuel moistures very low, very quickly. You can have a quarter inch of rain in the morning, then a 10 mile an hour wind after the front moves through. With a little direct sunshine plus a southwest facing slope, by that afternoon or evening, the top layers are dry enough to burn," said Kanawha Co. fire forestor Tom Oxley.

It's another reminder to be careful when burning, to help limit the fire danger.

The fire in Fayette started from a faulty electrical line that sparked, then caught some trees on fire. But often times, brush fires get out of hand when people burn material irresponsibly.

Don't forget burning is off limits during the day, and if you have to burn at night--have water at hand in case it gets out of control.



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