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Drought worsens for parts of the area; fire threat increases

Threat for fires increases, with no significant drought relief in sight

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ROANOKE, Va. – With Thursday's latest drought monitor being released, some parts of the area are now in what's considered a 'severe drought.'

We haven't been under a severe drought in our area since late March of 2011.

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Fires unfortunately become more frequent in areas under this level of drought. We also tend to see water restrictions implemented when severe drought becomes more widespread. Lastly, mowing should rarely happen.

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Almost all of the area is under a moderate drought and has been for the last one-to-two weeks.

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The Southern Area Wildfire Risk Assessment for Fall 2019 was published recently, and it reveals a few things. Some of these things come as no surprise. 

- Some trees are seeing the lowest moisture levels since 2016, which many of you remember as the year of the Gatlinburg fire.

-Current wildfires are taking longer to control.

-Premature leaf drop and drought conditions are adding more fuel for fires.

-As the passage of cold fronts will increase in the coming weeks, the threat for fires is expected to increase. Behind cold fronts this time of year, you typically get the combination of a gusty wind and dry air. Combine that with the already dry ground, and it doesn't take long for fires to start and spread.

In fact, as soon as Friday (10/4/2019), we'll have that one-two-three combination in play. In addition to burn bans already in place, you should not be burning on a day like Friday. 

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Here are some things you can take into consideration to prevent any fires around where you live. 

Since leaves are dropping already and will continue to do so, keep up with the gutters. Also, make sure that tree branches are multiple feet off the ground. Lastly, if you smoke - be careful of where you put your cigarettes.

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Littering is not only illegal, but a lit cigarette on a dry ground can quickly start a brush fire.


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