PSA: West Virginia Division of Forestry urges caution during fire season

CHARLESTON, W.V. — In light of recent fires across the state, the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) urges residents that fires must be attended at all times. Fall fire season started on October 1 and continues through December 31.

Debris burning is the single most common cause of wildfires in West Virginia, averaging more than 35% of all wildfires over the past 10 years. WV DOF reminds West Virginians to confine their outdoor burning to the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. according to the West Virginia State Code Chapter 20-3-5. Fires set during that time must be put out before 7 a.m.

“As we advance further into the fall fire season, I ask that everyone please use common sense and follow our burning laws,” said Assistant State Forester-Fire Jeremy Jones, WV DOF.

As the crisp, dry fall season is in full effect, the air offers less moisture for grasses and leaf litter to absorb. Dry leaves and forest floor debris become more flammable. Burning is banned during the day because even in fall, relative humidity typically increases in the evening.

A summary of forest fire laws and safe fire practices can be found on the state Division of Forestry website here

The forest fire law includes: 

  • No outdoor burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Any fire set between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. must be extinguished before 7 a.m.
  • Before leaving any fire for any length of time, the fire must be completely extinguished.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area (safety strip) around the fire and make sure all burnable material has been removed.
  • Any equipment that can throw sparks and operating on land subject to fire by any cause must be provided with an adequate spark arrestor. 
  • If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause.
  • Violation of the burning law is punishable by a fine up to $1,000.

To burn during prohibited periods for commercial burning, a permit must be obtained from the Division of Forestry. Learn more about burning permits here.

The Division of Forestry protects nearly 12 million acres of forestland across West Virginia. More information on fire safety and programs such as forest legacy, logging and landowner assistance, visit the website wvforestry.com.

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