BUCKHANNON – Forest fire season is upon West Virginia again.
According to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection website, starting March 1 and ending May 31, no open burnings may be conducted between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. unless a permit is obtained from the Division of Forestry, and the proper permit fees are paid.
Buckhannon Fire Department firefighter Tanner Smith said people within city limits are not permitted to have open burnings within these hours unless they also have a permit.
“To burn anything in the city, you need a permit,” Smith said. “To get those, you just either call down or come down to the fire station, and they will come out and inspect your site, make sure it’s safe and then it’s a free permit.”
Smith said this designated time of the year is particularly dangerous because plants and brush are dry and may easily catch on fire.
“If you do have a permit, and you are within the burning hours, you need to pay attention to the wind, make sure you have a water source nearby and monitor the fire at all times,” he said.
Smith said it is illegal to burn during the forest fire season without following these guidelines.
“If you have a fire burning during the season and you burn outside of the allowed hours, from the state’s perspective you will be responsible for any damage it causes,” Smith said. “Say it burns across your property line and burns down your neighbor’s house. You’re responsible for that, so that’s why the burning regulations are there, to keep everybody safe and without everyone following it, that’s how problems start.”
He also said the only material people are permitted to burn is natural vegetation, such as sticks, leaves or brush. Trash and manmade products are not allowed to be burned.
Smith said if anyone has any questions regarding burning seasons or open burnings in general to call the Buckhannon Fire Department at 304-472-2868.
The West Virginia Division of Forestry recently sent out a press release outlining forest fire laws, which may be found on its website at www.wvforestry.com/firelaws.cfm.
The fire safe law includes:
• No burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Fires must always be attended.
• Before leaving any fire for any length of time, the fire must be completely extinguished.
• Clear at least a 10-foot area around the fire and make sure the area is clear of all burnable material.
• If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause.