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W.Va. Division of Forestry urges extreme caution as dry and windy winter conditions continue

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) urges West Virginians to be cautious of burning amid dry, windy conditions this winter.

“Although spring fire season officially begins March 1, we are experiencing some intensely dry, windy conditions across West Virginia that make it much more likely that a fire can get out of control than if we had seen a snowy winter,” said Assistant State Forester-Fire Jeremy Jones, WV DOF. “We ask that the public continue to exercise caution and refrain from burning under these conditions.”

The Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management also advised residents to use caution.

“Low humidity, dry fuels and winds are creating elevated fire danger,” the Upshur DHSEM said. “Open burning is dangerous at this time. Be cautious with heat and sparks.”

The National Weather Service and WV DOF issued the following statement.

“Low humidity and dry fuels will combine with increasing winds later this afternoon (Feb. 14) into this evening, to create an enhanced wildfire ignition and spread potential. Even with light winds, a few brush fires were already noted this afternoon. Winds are expected to be strong and temperatures higher Wednesday afternoon so, even with slightly higher humidity, an elevated fire danger is again expected. While spring fire burning laws are not yet in effect, open burning of any type is considered dangerous at this time. Be very careful of heat and sparks while operating any equipment or smoking in wildland areas.”

To date this year, WV DOF reports 86 fires that have impacted 452 acres across the state.

Safe Burning Tips

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

  • 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.

Spring Fire season begins March 1.

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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