A brush fire broke out near Tygart Lake in Taylor County Tuesday night. It took crews several hours to get the fire under control, and while no one was hurt, it still caused a lot of damage. At its peak, the fire covered almost five football fields worth of woods and it took 24 firefighters from Grafton to put it out.
A local person was burning leaves and debris in their yard, but because Tuesday was dry and windy, the fire spread and quickly got out of control. This isn't so unusual. There have been around 50 brush fires in our area just over the last few weeks. These fires are damaging to the woods, and they can also put people and homes in danger. That's why forestry workers always encourage people to follow the burning laws, but you still have to be careful. Even on days when it rains, leaves can dry out within an hour after a shower and spread the fire far and fast. Forestry workers say that if you have a fire that gets out of control, you are responsible for the consequences.
"If somebody accidentally leaves a fire out, they are responsible for the damage that it causes," said Tim Casto, a Fire Forester with the West Virginia Division of Forestry. "If somebody lets their fire out and it burns down their neighbor's home, or somebody gets hurt or killed trying to put the fire out, then they're responsible for the damage it causes."
Brush fires also put a big strain on fire departments. Grafton Fire had a lot of trouble getting to Tuesday nights fire because it was up a steep hill in the woods. Plus, being there meant they would have been too busy to respond to anything else.
"The thing we're asking people is use common sense. If it gets out of control, call someone, don't try to put it out yourself," said Dennis Skiles, a Grafton firefighter. "You've got 24 people tied up on a brush fire, when we could be helping people in a car wreck or if their house is on fire."
At this time of the year, you are only allowed to burn between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., when it is cool and damp. If you are going to burn something, make sure to have an area of dirt around the fire to keep it from spreading.