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John McGary

Southeastern KY wildfires mostly under control, dry weather still a concern

The numbers are improving. According to Steve Kull of the state Division of Forestry, on Wednesday, eight fires were active – meaning they could still spread – and 40 others are contained. 

“With the resources that we've been able to bring in from other states and supplement our crews and all, we've been able to put enough people out there and equipment that we can get a handle on these very large fires. And then while they're working on those, we still have the ability to react to new fires.”

Kull said a 10-person crew from Utah arrived Tuesday, joining six from Oregon and three from Idaho that have been on fire lines since late last week. Trained inmates from the Bell County Forestry Camp and firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service have also helped, he said. However, weather’s still a concern.

“Even overnight, which is very unusual, the relative humidity stayed in the teens and 20s. And that just means it's real dry out there, the fuel’s real dry. A lot of times we can get in the evenings we'll get humidity to come up and fires won't spread.”

Rain is in the forecast for Friday, though Kull said higher winds preceding the front could pose a problem. He said not counting the Bell County inmates and U.S. Forest Service crews, about 350 firefighters were on the lines Wednesday. They’re not doing their job alone.

“We have some supplies, water and MREs and things to get to our crews, and they're working with Department of Transportation, and Department of Transportation, I believe are going to take them for us today. And that'll free up some of our folks. We don't have to commit to logistics kinds of stuff. So, great partnership, appreciate all their support.”

Kull said there’ve been no serious injuries to the men and women battling the wildfires.

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