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Burn ban goes into effect in Henry County as dry conditions continue

Published: Dec. 4, 2021 at 10:46 PM EST
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HENRY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - If you live in Southside, chances are you haven’t needed an umbrella or rain jacket lately.

“The low humidity, the high winds, the dry vegetation where we’ve not had a lot of rain,” said Henry County Fire Marshal Lisa Garrett.

But that lack of rain is more harmful than you think.

“You’ve got much warmer than normal conditions, much dryer than normal conditions, and then you add wind to that and those are basically the three factors you need for significant fire behavior,” said John Miller, the Director of Fire and Emergency Response for the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Those factors are also why Garrett asked for, and got approval for, a burn ban starting Saturday.

“Southside Virginia, maybe a little more so than the Shenandoah Valley, has been probably the driest area of the state, really throughout the summer and even in through the fall,” said Miller.

A burn ban this time of year isn’t entirely out of the ordinary.

“We’ve had to do it in the past, normally the statewide burn ban goes into effect in February, so it is a little early,” said Garrett.

“What’s unique about this year, is just the fact that we’re getting that weather pattern here in early December, as opposed to maybe early to mid-November,” said Miller.

John Miller has been with the Department of Forestry 32 years and said November is typically when they see higher fire activity.

“This fall fire season, we’ve responded to about 250 fires for about 3,000 acres, and actually this fall is one that I would generally classify as a lighter than average fall fire season.”

But Garrett said they aren’t taking any chances in Henry County, and will keep the burn ban in effect indefinitely.

“The reason for that is because of the weather conditions and the fact that we haven’t seen a forecast for any significant rain or snow or anything like that.”

The ban extends to all open fires in Henry County, but there are a few exceptions.

“Outdoor grills, items like that are contained, that is acceptable, outdoor burning furnishes, they are acceptable.”

It’s important residents know they can be held liable for damages and injuries resulting from a fire they start during the burn ban. Henry County’s Department of Public Safety encourages anyone with questions to reach out.

The phone number to call with any questions is (276)-634-4660 and you can visit Henry County’s website here.

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