Article Posted: April 16, 2003

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COLUMBUS, OH - Record spring temperatures, high winds and low
humidity have combined to create dangerous conditions for wildfires across
the state, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced today.
"In just the last 24 hours, we've assisted several local fire
departments across Ohio in their efforts to suppress wildfires," said John
Dorka, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. "We ask Ohioans to use
extreme caution under these volatile conditions, as a carelessly tossed
cigarette or even the smallest unattended fire can lead to large wildfires
that threaten nearby homes, fields, forests and wildlife."
The ODNR Division of Forestry offers the following suggestions
during extreme wildfire conditions:
* First and foremost, if burning can be cancelled or postponed, do so
* If you must burn, do not leave fire unattended
* Activities involving cutting torches, ATV or other equipment use
without spark arrestors, and any outdoor burning should be avoided.
* Ohio Law prohibits outdoor burning in rural areas from 6 a.m. to 6
p.m. during the months of March, April, and May.
* Do not burn within 200 feet of any woodland, brushland or field with
dry grass.
* Use a proper burning container or barrel with a lid.
* Always keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby in case the
fire escapes containment.
* Call 911 or notify your local fire department if you see an escaped

Wildfires cause injuries, deaths, and hundreds of thousands of
dollars of personal property loss in Ohio each year.
"The leading cause of woodland fires in Ohio is human carelessness
and arson," said Dorka. "These fires result in untold damage to trees and
landscape, wildlife, water quality and destruction of outbuildings. They
also place people and their homes at significant risk."
Each year, about 1,000 wildfires consume a total of 4,000-6,000
acres of forest and grassland in our state. During the drought of 1999,
Ohio lost more than 8,000 acres to wildfires.
Open burning is regulated by local ordinances and the Ohio
Environmental Protection Agency. Throughout Ohio's wildfire seasons,
forestry laws prohibit open burning in rural areas between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- a period of the day when wildfires are most likely to occur and are most
difficult to control.
If you detect a wildfire, immediately contact the nearest fire or
law enforcement authority. Do not attempt to put the blaze out yourself.
Extinguishing a fire requires specialized training and the unwary Good
Samaritan could be quickly overwhelmed by the ferocity of the flames.
The ODNR Division of Forestry offers fire suppression support as
well as training to rural volunteer firefighters, ranging from basic
wildfire instruction to specialized fire-suppression skills. Each year,
several of these highly trained professionals become part of a multi-state
team to help suppress major forest fires out West.

Source: ODNR

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