Burn ban declared as brush fires occur

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 6, 2021

Prince Edward County has declared a local emergency and instituted a county-wide burn ban. Already, officials are seeing a number of brush fires occur in the area.

According to a press release distributed Thursday, Dec. 2, Prince Edward has instituted a county-wide ban on all open-air fires and outdoor burning effective as of 4 p.m. Thursday in response to conditions that are creating a fire danger.

Officials said the ban is the result of the current abnormally dry conditions seen across the county.

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“In consultation with the Prince Edward Area Firefighters Association and the Virginia Department of Forestry, the county instituted a county-wide open fire burn ban which will remain in effect until the area receives a significant amount of rainfall that decreases fire risk,” County Administrator and Director of Emergency Management Doug Stanley stated in the release. “Current conditions have elevated the public safety risk for citizens and first responders. This is a precautionary measure to protect life and property in the county.”

At least two separate brush fire incidents were reported the day following the burn ban.

According to Farmville Fire Department Chief Cayden Eagles, crews from Farmville and the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department responded at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 3, to the 100th block of Brooklyn Plantation Road for a reported brush fire. Firefighters worked quickly to knock down the blaze, which extended across a 60 sq. ft. area.

Crews remained on scene for approximately an hour to ensure no rekindles occurred, and officials are uncertain of the exact cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.

According to Meherrin Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief Trey Pyle, another brush fire broke out at approximately 1:10 p.m. Friday in the 300th block of CC Camp Road. Crews from Meherrin and the Keysville Volunteer Fire Department responded to the incident.

Pyle said an individual unaware of the burn ban was burning trash in his yard that afternoon when the fire got out of control and extended across 75 sq. ft. of land. Firefighters were able to control the blaze quickly.

Pyle said it’s important to pay attention to burn bans in order to avoid such a situation.

“Any fire can get out of hand very quickly,” he said.

“Any small fire, contained or not, can become out of control in a small amount of time,” Eagles emphasized.

According to the release, the burn ban, in accordance with sections 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.”

Officials said the ban on open-air fires and outdoor burning applies to all public and private property.

The ban includes and applies to: 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 release states the ban will remain in effect until Prince Edward County receives sufficient precipitation to reduce the fire danger.