Forestry officials warn of increased fire risk

FRANKFORT — Kentucky forestry officials are warning of an increased risk of fire due to a combination of low humidity, low fuel moisture and windy conditions.

The conditions prompted the National Weather Service to issue a fire weather watch for Wednesday afternoon through early Wednesday evening for six counties in Eastern Kentucky. A more serious "red flag warning" was in effect Tuesday for 33 counties.

The forestry division and local firefighters have battled more than 150 blazes in the past several days.

In Lexington, firefighters responded to a dozen mulch, brush or grass fires between 7 a.m. and about 6 p.m. Tuesday, said Battalion Chief Brent Frizzell.

He said the warmth, wind and lack of rain recently contributed to the high number, as well as the fact that more people have been spreading mulch.

"Mulch, when it degrades, tends to spontaneously combust sometimes," he said.

Forestry Division Director Leah MacSwords says the last few days have been the busiest time for fighting forest fires since the spring fire hazard season began this year.

The division says that during fire season, which ends April 30, it is illegal to burn any flammable material in or within 150 feet of any woodlands or brushlands except between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.