Some counties ban outdoor fires

Strong winds and dry conditions prompted area fire officials this week to issue bans on open burning even though weather reports call for snow this weekend.

The Frederick County Office of the Fire Marshal ordered Thursday all burning suspended. The National Weather Service issued an enhanced threat for the spread of wildfires. Low, relative humidity and low-fuel moisture enhance the threat for the spread of wildfires.

County officials warned residents to take extra caution when handling potential ignition sources and to properly discard all smoking materials.

Clarke County issued a similar ban Thursday prohibiting all outdoor burning with the exception of grills used for preparing food or fires within metal or masonry containers.

However, fire chiefs for Shenandoah and Warren counties held off on issuing their own burn bans on Friday.

The Virginia Department of Forestry graded Friday at a fire occurrence Level 2 and 1 for today, according to information from Shenandoah County. Based on these levels, the county does not plan to issue a burn ban. Outside fire activity has paced at about the same level for this time of year as in the past. County officials continue to monitor outside fire activity.

Richard Mabie, chief of the Warren County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, stated in an email Friday that he didn’t issue a burn ban given that weather forecasts call for snow and ice this weekend and next week.

“I have not put a ban in place in Warren mainly due to few fires we’ve had, even illegal burns,” Mabie stated. “We’ve been fortunate to even had localized showers.

“We’ll re-examine late next week or later depending on local conditions,” Mabie stated. “We stay in contact with (Virginia Department) of Forestry during these times as well.”

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