The Virginia Department of Forestry has raised the region’s wildfire threat level to “Class 3” — an unusually high threat for this time of year. The story from WFIR’s Evan Jones.

[audio:|titles=09-01 Wildfire Wrap2-WEB]

Here is the full Virginia Department of Forestry news release:

Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) have raised the wildfire threat level to Class 3 (High) for tomorrow in Southwest Virginia.  Low humidity and drought conditions (approaching 700 on an 800 scale) were factors in the decision.

The area has been in an extended period of drought; no rainfall associated with Hurricane Irene fell in this area. Under Class 3 conditions, fires start easily from most causes and can spread rapidly.

Following these points can help reduce the risk of a wildfire and help firefighters suppress a fire that does occur on your land.

  • Instead of burning leaves, compost them in the fall;
  • If you must burn leaves, trash or other debris, obey all laws and restrictions; clear an area around your burn pile, and keep burn piles small;
  • Always have a shovel and a fully charged water hose on hand before lighting your fire;
  • Never burn if the wind is in excess of 10 mph and/or is blowing toward your home or your neighbor’s;
  • Plan, discuss and practice an escape plan with your family and your pets, and
  • Call 911 and report your fire right away.

“Extended dry periods in late summer always keep our attention,” said John Miller, director of resource protection. “We’re concerned about this potential threat heading into our fall fire season, which is expected to be a little earlier this year due to the drought conditions.”  Virginia’s official Fall Fire Season extends from October 15 to November 30 each year.