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Rains helping firefighters' efforts

November 27, 2001

Rains helping firefighters' efforts



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


Rain over the holiday weekend began providing relief for Tri-State-area firefighters who have been battling a string of wildfires this month.

But the threat of wildfires may not be over, said fire officials.

While the sometimes heavy rains greatly reduced the chances of wildfires, it is still very dry deep in the ground, said Bruce Chrisman, assistant chief of the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co.

If windy conditions return and dry out the wooded areas, wildfires could return, Chrisman said.

"I would like to see this much rain for the next two weeks," Chrisman said.

Capt. Brad Knieriem of the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Co. agreed that continued rains will be needed to significantly reduce the threat of wildfires.

Knieriem said the fires that have scorched up to 60 acres at a time are some of the worst he has seen in recent years.

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Out of the 11 months this year, only a couple had above-normal rainfall, a meteorologist said Sunday.

The rain that started over the weekend appears to be over, but a wetter weather pattern appears to be on the horizon, said Parks Camp, a meterologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

There is a chance of showers Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and by the end of the week it appears the wetter pattern should start setting in, Camp said.

One of the biggest fires in Berkeley County occurred when an estimated 60 acres on a rough section of North Mountain caught fire Nov. 9. Firefighters were called back to the area five times as flames continued to flare up at the site.

Firefighters also battled wildfires in cornfields and wooded areas in Jefferson County and nearby Washington County.

There is a ban on open burning in West Virginia, and it is up to Gov. Bob Wise to lift the ban, Chrisman said.

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