Red Flag Warning - what does that mean?

A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the areas south and west of D.C including Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties to name a few and that may have some of you scratching your heads!

What the heck does this mean? A Red Flag Warning is a forecast warning issued by the National Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wild land fire ignition and propagation. Still wondering?

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Here is the bottom line: there is an elevated risk for explosive fire growth. A combination of factors including extremely dry air (humidity levels are at levels typical for the Sonoran Desert in Arizona) and gusty winds (big-time bad hair day) and something called low fuel moisture (details here) all combined are a recipe for big-time problems.

Just over two years ago today, the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department experienced the busiest brush fire day in the history of the department. Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson of PGCFEMS has provided some important safety tips to help curb the fire potential:

• Dispose of smoking materials in an appropriate container and ensure they are completely extinguished. Do not discard these items into any open area as they may start a fire that will spread rapidly. Do not dispose of smoking materials out of your vehicle when traveling.

• Business owners and property managers should have appropriate disposable containers in areas where smoking occurs outside.

• Do not burn brush or trash ever without appropriate approval.

• We request that you not use outside grills or cooking equipment during these times. If you must, ensure you have some type of extinguishing agent nearby (water hose, bucket of sand, fire extinguisher, etc.)

• If you have fireplace ashes; you must put them into a sealed metal container placed on a concrete surface away from any structures. If possible - wait to clean your fireplace until this weather event is over.