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NWS: Warning issued for critical fire conditions in Gloucester, Mathews, James City counties Thursday

Areas of the upper and middle Peninsula are under a National Weather Service “Red Flag Warning” because of critical fire weather conditions.

The warning, in effect through 8 p.m. Thursday, covers Gloucester, Mathews and James City County, and stretches to the north and western areas of the state.

“Gusty winds, low relative humidity and low fuel moistures will combine to create an environment conducive to the rapid spread of wildfires,” the warning states. “All outdoor burning should be avoided. Any wildfires that start will spread rapidly and will be difficult to control.”

Relative humidity is at just 25 to 30 percent, and southwest winds are gusting as high as 35 mph.

A hazardous weather outlook is in effect for the rest of the Peninsula area and Southside Hampton Roads.

There is an increased risk for fires in southeast Maryland, northeast North Carolina, eastern Virginia, south central Virginia and southeast Virginia, the outlook states.

“Residents are urged to exercise caution handling any potential ignition source...including machinery... cigarettes...and matches,” officials said in the statement.

“Be sure to properly discard all smoking materials. Any dry grasses and tree litter that ignite will have the potential to spread quickly,” officials said.

Open burning is illegal in Virginia before 4 p.m. each day through April 30th.

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