‘What we need is rain’: Letcher County sees slew of forest fires

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 6:10 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2023 at 6:59 PM EST
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - With forest fires spreading across the region, Eastern Kentucky counties are seeing a lot of smoke.

Letcher County first responders have been hitting the hills for days, as the flames continue to flicker and smoke fills the streets in several different communities.

“What we need is rain,” said Fire Captain and Police Chief James Stephens.

From a hillside fire across from Martha Jane Potter Elementary to another hot spot in Jackhorn, the spread out sparks have exhausted the firefighters who are trying to protect the community.

“Guys get frustrated because they’re stressed enough taking care of of the fires, as it is, then we get communications issues,” Stephens said. “Then we get get people calling in saying that a fire is close to their house and we get there and it’s actually a mile away.”

Stephens encouraged the community to do its part by sticking to the county’s total burn ban, staying vigilant and being responsible.

“Eventually, it’s going to be your house that you set on fire by doing something silly. So, use the garbage pickup. Don’t burn. Burning is not the thing to do; it just causes problems like this,” said Stephens. “To protect your house: clean your gutters out, keep your gutters clean, keep everything- within 30 yards of your house- just keep that cleaned up,” said Stephens.

Several counties in the region have enacted burn bans and Gov. Andy Beshear has declared a State of Emergency related to the fires.