February denotes the official beginning of the spring forest fire season in Kentucky. This period runs normally until early May.

Normally, during this time period, the temperatures begin to rise and moisture in the form of rain or snow begins to become less during March and April. With increased solar radiation, the leaves and small dead branches on the ground from the previous season can dry to a point that any fire source can create major burns in the forest. Many people tend to become complacent after a short rain and think that forest fire potentials are low. This can be quit the opposite with one day of full sun light. It is not uncommon to have forest fires in the spring after several days of rain. People feel that the rain has completely saturated the ground, but spring solar radiation and winds will quickly dry out the upper surface of the ground and cause small fires to become major concerns.

After any forest fire, there is a great reduction in the value or potential value of timber. The most valuable section of a tree is the first sixteen feet, the area of a tree that is most affected by any forest fire. Many trees do not die after a forest fire, but openings have been created to the base of the tree for insect and disease entrances. As the tree continues to grow after a fire, the damage to the wood increases, thus lowering the value of the stem. The damage may range from simple staining to advanced rotting of the wood, all which will affect the final value of the timber. Most stands of timber that have had a least one fire in them may have a value loss of 50% of the potential value.

Take prevention to see that fires that you might need to use for farm management are contained and do not spread to a forest. Before doing any burn, contact your local representative of the Kentucky Division of Forestry. Remember that the individual responsible for forest fires are held responsible for the total suppression costs of a that fire.