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12 counties issue burn bans due to dangerous, dry conditions

'95% of the fires are caused by humans and that means they can be prevented.'

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA – Twelve counties across Southwest Virginia have issued burn bans due to dangerously dry conditions.

Those counties include Bland, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Wythe.

Chris Thomsen, with the Virginia Department of Forestry's, said the dry conditions go deeper than the ground's surface, so putting out fires is that much harder.

"The fire burns into the ground. It burns into that organic matter," Thomsen said. "So just spraying some water on top or throwing a little dirt doesn't do it."

The open air burn ban prohibits things like campfires, burning brush or trash.

"Ninety-five percent of the fires are caused by humans and that means they can be prevented," Thomsen said.

Even things that might not normally spark a fire are now a risk.

"A bush hog will go out and the blade will strike a rock and it will spark a fire and you don't see that if it's not this dry," Thomsen said. "You know, a cigarette thrown to the side of the road in the brown grass."

He advises everyone to check with their local authorities to stay updated about current bans in effect because each county's restrictions may differ slightly.

As long as the drought doesn't let up, neither will the burn bans.

"Sooner or later we'll be out of this, it just doesn't look like it's going to be anytime soon," Thomsen said.


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