West Virginia spring fire season, burning restrictions return March 1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The start of West Virginia’s annual spring fire season on Friday, March 1 marks the return of burning restrictions.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) reminds residents 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.

“Since January 1 we have responded to 95 fires that have burned approximately 389.1 acres, ” said State Forester Jeremy Jones, WV DOF.

Statewide burning restrictions will remain in effect until the close of the spring fire season on May 31. The Division of Forestry has issued burning guidelines on its website at wvforestry.com/fire-laws.

Regulations include:
• All fires must have a 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.

“Our fire laws protect one of West Virginia’s most valuable resources: our forests,” Jones said. “We urge everyone who decides to burn anything outside to be completely familiar with the guidelines available on our website. During the spring months it doesn’t take long for our fuels to dry out and fires to escape easily.”

Commercial burning during prohibited periods requires a permit, which are issued by local WVDOF offices. A permit is required for each commercial burning site.

Any person or company who causes a fire on any grass or forest land must reimburse the state for costs to suppress the fire. Fines for forest fires caused by negligence range from $100 to $1,000 with an additional civil penalty of $200.

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