CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Much of West Virginia saw a desperately needed series of downpours Monday morning. It marked a couple of days of rain which started with a cold front pushing into the state Sunday. It was also the first rain many areas of West Virginia had experienced in weeks.
As welcome as the system was to give the state a good soak, it wasn’t nearly enough.
State Division of Forestry Director Barry Cook said although it helped, about all that came of Monday’s precipitation was a break for those battling forest fires. He gave a wary eye toward the extended forecast.
“For the next 14 days there is no precipitation predicted above 40 percent and eight of those days are at 20 percent or lower for precipitation,” Cook said on MetroNews Talkline.
The ban on open burning in West Virginia remained in place as did the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration issued over drought conditions in all 55 West Virginia counties. Since the Governor issued the burning band on September 23rd, fires have continued to be a problem. When the ban was put in place there had been 60 fires which consumed 160 acres. As of Monday, there were 163 fires which burned 2,715 acres. According to Cook, 89 percent of those are south of Route 50.
“We’ve had a couple of good sized fires. One in Nicholas County was about 350 acres. Another here on Cabin Creek was approximately 400 acres. We’ve had a few fairly significant fires, a couple were in the 200 acre range,” said Cook.
Unfortunately, Cook said many haven’t gotten the message.
“Twenty-six percent of those fires were started from debris burning and 17 percent are suspected to be incendiary,” said Cook.
Investigations into most of the fires with no known cause are underway, but so far nobody has been arrested or cited in the ongoing investigations.The burning ban remains in effect for the foreseeable future.