CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As spring approaches, so does the threat of forest fires. The West Virginia Division of Forestry reminds residents that the state’s spring forest fire season starts on March 1, 2013, and runs through May 31, 2013. During these three months, daytime burning is prohibited from the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outdoor burning is permitted only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
State law requires a ring or safety strip around outdoor fires to keep the fire from spreading into the woods. This safety strip must be cleared of all burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide completely around the debris pile.
Additional requirements of the state’s fire laws include staying on-site until the fire is completely extinguished, and only burning vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings.
If you allow a fire you have started to escape and it causes a wildfire or forest fire, you will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. An additional civil penalty of $200 also will be assessed against you.
The Division of Forestry offers these tips for safe outdoor burning:
- 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
Commercial burning permits may be obtained by public utilities and people burning in conjunction with commercial, manufacturing, mining or like activities. These burning permits cost $125 each and are issued by local Division of Forestry offices. A permit is required for each site where this type of burning takes place.
To find out more about West Virginia’s burning laws and where you can obtain a burning permit, visit the Division of Forestry’s website at www.wvforestry.com.
Leslie Fitzwater, Public Information Specialist
304-957-9342 or 304-541-8102