Beginning during the first week of October the weather predictions for the next eight weeks normally are very favorable for potential forest fires in the hardwood timber region of Kentucky. With very warm temperatures, very low humidity, a partial fall leaf drop, and normally a shortage of rainfall, conditions are very conducive for forest fires. If the conditions continue into the weekends, the chance of fire will only increase with those additional individuals that have only the weekends to do yard and field work.

Almost annually during the summer, radio and TV reports discuss, in detail, the problems with fires in other sections of United States. (The summer of 1998 dealt with the tremendous fire area that even closed down popular summer vacation spots in Florida.) The reason for this attention is the almost absolute destruction of the timber after a fire in those areas. This is NOT the character of fires in Kentucky and other hardwood producing states of the east.

The fires in Kentucky usually burn close to the ground, normally do not kill the tree, and during the following spring we find the trees have again leafed out giving the indication that no harm is done to the tree. To the contrary. Trees that have been exposed to forest fires will, in most part, continue to go DOWN in value during the remaining life span of the tree.

The reason for this loss of value in hardwood timber:
1. Entrance courts for disease and insects.
2. Staining of the wood that would be used for lumber.
3. Beginning and continuation of rot in the tree. All of these factors will mean LOWER future prices for the individuals attempting to sell this timber exposed to fire.

Foresters, as well as any log buyer, are going to be able to detect past forest fires in any stand of timber, even after many years of absence of fires in forest stands. Forest land owners should understand the need to keep fires from their forest lands to maintain, as well as increasing the future value of those stands.

Forest land owners should also understand that if they are found responsible for a forest fire, they will be responsible to incur the entire cost of suppression of the fire regardless of the area affected. Kentucky's fire season for the fall is October 1 through December 15. During the forest fires season, even though the precaution required year round by KRS.375 have been taken, it is unlawful for any person to set fire to, or procure another to set fire to, any flammable material capable of spreading fire, located in or within one hundred and fifty feet of any woodland or brush land, except between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM, prevailing local time, or when the ground is covered with snow.

Spring fire season in Kentucky is February 15 through April 30.  Fall fire season runs from October 1 through late December.