Fire Watch

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If state foresters had a choice, the sound they'd rather hear is of falling rain.

The crackling sound, the one which indicates a brush fire, is the sound they fear at this time of the year, and while we seemed to have non-stop snowfall this winter, the season has actually been drier than it was last year.

"We like to see a lot of snow," said Parkersburg District Forester Gerald Waybright, "because it packs down the moisture in the leaves, and the moisture stays there."

Actually, last winter left behind one problem, one forestry officials may have an effect on this year's fire season.

"There's a lot of stuff down in the woods," Waybright said, "and if it catches fire, it will be hard to put out. Treetops and things in the forest the ice brought down."

Waybright has been with the state more than 40 years. He says his first year, 1963, was one of the worst years for brush fires he's ever seen. The early 1990's, though, could compete. The fires were mostly in southern West Virginia, but the smoke could be seen and smelled in our area.

As a reminder, the fire season means outdoor burning is banned from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day between now until May 31.