Kentucky firefighters rush to contain forest fires near homes

Firefighters say some of the flames have gotten dangeroulsy close to some homes and power lines.
Firefighters say some of the flames have gotten dangeroulsy close to some homes and power lines.(Kentucky Division of Forestry)
Published: Nov. 6, 2023 at 5:15 PM EST
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EVARTS, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been a busy couple of days for firefighters in parts of eastern Kentucky. Hundreds of acres of woodland have burned since Saturday.

Several of the fires were close to homes on Monday.

The wind picking up was a concern as the fire was coming down a hill within sight of homes near Evarts.

“Last night, you could see over the mountain, an orange, an orange-type color. You could see the fire radiating over the mountain,” said Shemar Carr outside his home.

Firefighters were first called out Saturday afternoon when fires started in Harlan County near the Virginia border. Since then, several have burned hundreds of acres in various places.

“We got structures threatened. We have power lines threatened. We have a substation, an electrical substation threatened,” said DeWayne Anderson with the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Evarts City volunteer firefighters scrambled to hose down areas, but there was only so much they could do.

“Which we still have structures down the road here, and if it keeps growing, we are going to have to watch them,” said Assistant Chief Anthony Williams.

Some people were told to leave their homes as firefighters worked to establish a five-foot wide line to stop the flames from spreading.

“It is concerning. We have several departments out. It is putting a stress on our emergency services. Many have been out the last 96 hours. If it wasn’t for our volunteer fire departments, many would have lost their homes this weekend,” said David McGill with Harlan County Emergency Management.

What exactly started these fires is not known, but there are a number of conditions making it ripe for them to start and spread. Officials say dry weather is one of them; fuel on the ground in form of dry leaves is another.

Division of Forestry officials says fires were also burning in parts of Bell, Breathitt, Knox and Owsley Counties.