CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The annual spring fire season starts March 1 and continues through May 31. The season marks the return of burning restrictions, prohibiting open burns between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
More than 99% of all wildfires in West Virginia are caused by people, directly or indirectly. Burning debris accounts for 35% of all wildfires during the past 10 years.
The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF) website, wvforestry.com, provides safety regulations for outdoor fires. These include:
- All fires must have a ring or safety strip.
- The safety strip itself must be cleared of burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide.
- Fire must be attended until completely extinguished.
- Only vegetative materials such as leaves, brush and yard clippings are permitted to be burnt.
- Spark-throwing machinery such as power shovels or sawmills operating on land subject to fire must contain an adequate spark arrestor.
- Inflammable waste disposal areas must annually remove all grass, brush, debris, and other inflammable material adjacent to disposal areas to provide adequate protection, preventing the escape of fire to adjacent lands.
Commercial enterprises such as manufacturing must purchase a permit before burning during prohibited periods. Permits are issued by local WVDOF offices. A permit is required for each commercial burning site.
Any person or company who’s caused a fire on any grass or forest land must reimburse the State for costs to suppress the fire. Fines for forest fires due to negligence range from $100 to $1,000 with additional civil penalty of $200.