Many Eastern Kentucky wildfires contained and controlled

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

On Monday, Gov. Andy Beshear, who declared a state of emergency last Thursday due to an outbreak of wildfires mostly in eastern Kentucky, encouraged Kentuckians to stay vigilant, as wildfires continue to challenge parts of the state, and saluted firefighters’ efforts.

There currently are 16 active wildfires—fires that are being worked on but that continue to spread, down from 31 on Thursday. A total of 36 fires are contained, those that have containment lines stopping their spread but that require some level of action, and 76 fires are now considered controlled, meaning they have been managed and are no longer at risk of escaping control lines. That’s an increase from 44 on Thursday. Thus far, nearly 27,000 acres have been impacted.

“We are witnessing a volatile fire season, and although our team is making progress, it continues to be a potentially dangerous situation,” Beshear said. “We remain grateful for those working on the frontlines to get these fires under control and protect our homes and communities.”

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The Governor’s executive order allows state resources like Kentucky Emergency Management and the Kentucky National Guard to be activated as needed to help protect Kentucky families and communities. The state’s Emergency Operations Center has also been activated to Level 4.

In addition to local and state responders, the Kentucky Division of Forestry and Kentucky Emergency Management have coordinated assistance from forestry teams from the U.S. Forest Service (including the Daniel Boone National Forest), and the state forestry agencies of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Florida, Arkansas and Texas. The Virginia Division of Forestry teamed with KDF crews to control wildfires along state lines. Approximately 340 firefighting personnel are on location.

Weather conditions continue to be challenging, as high pressure will continue to settle across the Ohio Valley through Thursday. This will lead to very dry weather with above normal temperatures through Friday.

Drought conditions have increased threats of wildfires, with 40% of the state experiencing at least moderate drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Kentucky is in the midst of the Fall Wildfire Hazard Season, and there are additional restrictions through county-level burn bans. These burn bans prohibit the burning of any kind of material at any time of the day.