CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A windy March day is great for flying a kite, but not for burning brush. That’s why state foresters are asking residents to be extremely cautious this month with outdoor fires.
“One spark can easily start a forest fire,” said Assistant State Forester Walt Jackson. “Help us keep the woods safe by using common sense and not burning debris on windy days.”
Since Jan. 1, foresters have recorded 148 forest fires throughout West Virginia. Half of those fires, 74, were caused by sparks from debris fires or the escape of the fires themselves. The second leading cause of forest fires in 2012 is equipment use that has led to 32 fires. Arson or incendiary fires account for 26 fires so far this year.
Jackson offered several tips to keep down fire danger when burning outdoors.
- Burn only after 5 p.m. — it’s the law — and put your fire out completely by 7 a.m.
- Put debris in several small piles instead of one large one
- Never burn on dry, windy days
- Select a safe place away from overhead power lines, phone lines or other obstructions and where the fire cannot spread into the woods or weedy or brushy areas
- Clear at least a 10-foot area around the fire and make sure the area is clear of all burnable material
- Have water and tools on hand to extinguish anything that may escape the burn area
- Be conscientious of neighbors and don’t burn debris that produces a lot of smoke at times when smoke does not rise. If the smoke spreads out near the ground instead of rising, put out the fire and burn another time
- Stay with the fire at all times until it is completely out. Leaving a fire unattended for any length of time is illegal.
- Call 911 immediately if a fire does escape
For more information, visit www.wvforestry.com.
Leslie Fitzwater, Public Information Specialist
304-957-9342 or 304-541-8102