Prince Edward, surrounding area under ‘red flag warning’ today

There’s good news and bad. On the one hand, Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties are under a ‘red flag warning’ today, thanks to current conditions. The National Weather Service (NWS) out of Blacksburg released a statement early Wednesday morning, warning of increased fire danger. 

“We have issued a red flag warning for most of our Virginia counties due to a combination of low relative humidity, gusty winds and warmer temperatures,” NWS officials said in the statement. “Please avoid any open-air burning in the afternoon and evening as fires could spread quickly.”

Basically, any dry grass or tree limbs that catch fire have the potential to spread quickly over the next few days. That’s why people are being asked to use caution when it comes to handling anything that could possibly ignite. We’re not just just talking about matches. That goes for machinery too. And of course, if you’re smoking, be sure to put your cigarette all the way out before getting rid of it. 

That forecast continues through Thursday, with the main problem showing up this morning. And while that forecast was for Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, the red flag warning stretches through all of Central and Southside Virginia. 

And before anyone says this is an overreaction, we’re in wildfire season. Although Virginia also has a wildfire season in the fall, more than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s annual average of 700 wildfires occur in the spring. 

What is a red flag warning? 

So what is a red flag warning? That’s a term the National Weather Service uses, meaning that “critical fire weather conditions” are either happening now or will take place soon. As a result, the regional burn ban has been expanded a bit.

Last month, a burn ban was put in place, set to run until the end of April. Now that’s been extended somewhat. Previously, the ban only required people not to burn things until after 4 p.m. Now NWS officials are asking folks in Farmville and the surrounding area to halt all outside burning at least until this weekend. 

And let’s be clear. The burning law applies to all open-air fires such as debris burning, campfires and charcoal grills like those found in park settings. Now if someone is caught violating the ban, it’s a Class-3 misdemeanor. That means you could face up to $500 in fines. And if your fire gets out of control, you could be charged for all fire suppression costs by the department and possibly any resulting property damage. 

The good news on fire watch 

But we mentioned at the beginning there was good news and bad. The good news is that the concern over wildfires will drop on Saturday, as there’s currently an 80% chance of rain throughout Cumberland and Prince Edward counties.

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