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Prince Edward declares local emergency due to dry weather conditions

The county of Prince Edward has declared a local emergency, issuing a ban on all open-air fires and outdoor burning effective 2 p.m. Thursday in response to conditions that are creating fire danger, a county press release stated Thursday afternoon. The ban is the result of the current abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions in Prince Edward, with little-to-no predicted rainfall.

“Prince Edward County believes that the lack of rain and resulting severe fire danger are creating an elevated public safety risk for citizens and first responders,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett said in the release. “This is a precautionary measure to protect life and property in the county. We had a brush fire in the county last night that required a response by three fire departments and the Virginia Department of Forestry. The fire burned across six or seven acres at an alarming rate. This morning the county consulted with the Department of Forestry, and they concurred with the county; a burn ban is in order.”

Officials noted in the release that this Declaration of Local Emergency Due to Dry Weather Conditions in accordance with Section 44-146.21 and 15.2-922.1 of the Code of Virginia hereby establishes a ban on all open-air fires and outdoor burning for the entirety of the county of Prince Edward, excluding the Town of Farmville, until further notice and puts on alert all county fire agencies, should emergency response be required. All burning inside the Town of Farmville requires a town permit.

The ban on open-air fires and outdoor burning applies to all public and private property, the release cited. The ban includes and applies to the following: burning associated with construction, earth moving and demolition operations; burning associated with all agricultural and silvicultural activities; home burn barrels, fire pits or equivalents; campfires on public and private property; and all other open-air and outdoor fires. The ban will remain in effect until Prince Edward County receives sufficient precipitation to reduce the fire danger.