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Posted May 2, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Wildfire season passes uneventfully

By Joe Beck

Fire chiefs in Warren and Shenandoah counties said Thursday that favorable weather helped tame this year's wildfire season.

The season ended officially April 30 with no major fires reported in either county.

Shenandoah Chief Gary Yew said the number of brushfire calls and the amount of acres burned were both well below average.

"We didn't run nearly the number of wildfires this season we traditionally do, and the ones we did weren't that significant," Yew said.

Mabie reported much the same story in Warren County.

"I'd say we had practically no fires this season," Mabie said.

Mabie and Yew said the heavy snows in March did much to keep vegetation lying on the ground from turning into dry, combustible fuel.

Mabie said the National Weather Service issued only one red flag day notice, which warns of low moisture on the ground, low humidity and significant winds.

"I think early on we had some winter weather, snow and sleet that hung around a little bit for us and that certainly moistened things up," Mabie said.

Yew said an early warm spell after the snow quickly greened up grass in fields where fire often starts and spreads into woods.

Yew said fire risks linger in higher elevations that lack a full tree canopy. Sunlight can reach the forest floor, quickly dry it out and raise the risk of fire until mid-May when the trees are in full canopy, he said.

Mabie said he believes the greatest risk is over.

"It's not to say we won't have some brush fires because there are still leaves on the mountains and the ground and so forth," Mabie said. "But normally, from now on, they end up being small, and easily contained and extinguished."

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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