He said there have been 72 fires this year. In all of 2008, there were 117 fires to which the ranger’s office responded.
The office also assists other fire departments in the county at woodland fires.
Richmond County right now is not listed as being in any stage of drought condition.
“Even so, winds can dry forest fuel quickly and make it catch fire easily,” Clark said. “April and May are part of the fire season in Richmond County.”
Most of the fires so far in the county this year have been caused by debris burning which got out of control.
Fire service from the N.C. Forest Service will increase $2,767 this year up to $112,767 as the Richmond County part of the $281,917 budget. The increase is based on cost increases to the forest service.
In addition to forest fires, the forest service is keeping watch for illegal burning which has an effect on air quality.
“Only leaves, branches and other plant growth may be burned,” Clark said.
People burning illegally are subject to arrest and fines up to $25,000.
n Contact reporter Tom MacCallum at 997-3111, ext. 15; e-mail email@example.com.