EAST WILLIAMSON – The Williamson Fire Department responded to a forest fire near Wilhelmenia Drive in East Williamson on Wednesday afternoon around 3:30 p.m.
Apparently someone was burning brush and limbs and the fire got away from them and spread to the nearby hillside and traveled down toward U.S. 52 near Duba’s Wrecker Service.
Lt. Garrett Gregory and Lt. D. M. Casey led eight firefighters in battling the blaze.
The thick smoke spread throughout the community. The extremely dry and windy conditions helped fuel the brush fire.
The W.Va. Division of Forestry reported several forest fires earlier in the week.
Since the first of the year more than 4,000 acres of West Virginia forest land has been consumed by wildfire. The West Virginia Division of Forestry reported the damage was spread across 260 separate fires. The blazes were particularly bad this past weekend with high winds across much of the state accelerating fires already burning.
“Mingo County was one that had a pretty large fire Saturday about 422 acres, that was one of the larger ones,” said Leslie Smithson, Spokesperson for the Division of Forestry. “Logan had a 150 acres fire and another Mingo fire of 150 acres. We had a lot of small ones too, but those were some of the larger ones.”
Nearly all of those fires were a result of debris burning which got out of hand according to Smithson. Spring burning restrictions are currently in place which restrict burning to the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. However, when conditions are as dangerous as they were over the weekend, the recommendation is don’t burn at all.
“You are responsible for the damage any fire causes on somebody’s property and you can be fined as well,” Smithson said. “It’s to your benefit to listen to us when we ask you not to burn and only do so safely within legal burning hours.”
The forecast for West Virginia in the days ahead calls for an increased amount of rain mixed with snow in some locations. The falling temperatures will also lessen the chances for the forest to catch fire and officials hope the change in weather will help curb the fire numbers until the leaf canopy grows overhead.
(Some information for this article was provided by WVMetro News)
(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)