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Abnormally Dry Weather, Cigarettes Create Fire Danger

The warm, abnormally dry weather may be enjoyable for many people trying to partake in outdoor activities, but it’s causing a headache for firefighters.

Due to our area being about four inches below normal in rainfall for the year, more small fires have been sparking. Arlington County Fire Department Captain Gregg Karl said the county isn’t experiencing as many brush fires as some neighboring areas, but there have actually been a lot of mulch fires in the past few weeks.

According to Karl, most of the trouble has been with smokers trying to extinguish their cigarettes in plant boxes or areas with mulch. In many cases, the cigarettes smolder on the extremely dry, flammable material and then start a fire. Even drivers throwing cigarettes out of car windows has been causing trouble, because there’s mulch on many of the street medians in Arlington. Smokers are reminded to make sure cigarettes are completely extinguished, and to only use approved receptacles to dispose of them.

Even if we get some rain this weekend, it likely won’t be enough to alleviate the elevated fire danger.

“Unless we were to get a good, long, soaking rain, the fire danger will remain,” Karl said. “We need a persistent rain for a few days to get our levels where they need to be.”

Karl said some residents hear about red flag warnings and have questions about open burn restrictions. However, open burns of items such as yard clippings and debris are never allowed in Arlington, per the county code.

Another thing that goes hand in hand with warm weather is grilling, which can be a hazard as well. Anyone using a charcoal grill is reminded to use extra caution with the coals.

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