Clean-Up Fires Can Turn Deadly: Don't Be A Casualty
Release Date: April 6, 2009
Release Number: 1818-036

More Information on Kentucky Severe Winter Storm and Flooding

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Mild spring weather can have a down side after a hard winter. On sunny days people tend to take advantage and do outside chores, which may include burning debris left by last winter's ice storm. These fires can be, and often are dangerous, even deadly.

Just recently during a two-day period of good weather, two separate deaths resulted from debris fires. A Marshall County man died after his clothing caught on fire, and in adjoining McCracken County a fatal heart attack came from efforts to put out a debris fire that had spread to a house. A third death came not long afterward. On the other side of the state in Powell County, an uncontrolled debris fire caused a gas line to explode, killing the man tending the fire.

These tragedies point to a larger problem, warn officials of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Kentucky Division of Forestry. Wildfires large and small tend to follow storms that leave woody debris. Uncontrolled burning of debris has caused many injuries and ruined many acres that are not publicized like the high-profile cases described above.

"In early spring," said Leah MacSwords, director of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, "most vegetation is dead, brown and highly combustible. There is also very little green vegetation to serve as a barrier for spreading wildfire. We try to remind people of these conditions and we strongly discourage them from conducting any type of outdoor burning."

As the weather warms and recovery from the ice storm progresses, remember the do's and don'ts of debris burning: