CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s fall forest fire season starts Oct. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. During the three months of October, November and December, all outdoor burning is prohibited from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents may burn vegetative materials, including brush, leaves and limbs, only after 4 p.m. Anyone conducting outdoor burning must stay with the fire until it is completely extinguished, and all burning must be concluded prior to 7 a.m.
Other outdoor-burning requirements include clearing a safety strip of at least 10 feet around the materials being burned. To prevent wayward sparks from igniting a forest fire, the strip must be cleared down to the mineral soil.
Division of Forestry officials anticipate that West Virginia will have forest fires despite the ample rainfall the state received this past summer. “Forests can dry out very quickly in the fall,” said Assistant State Forester Ben Webster. “Just a few days of dry weather can cause wildfire danger to escalate quickly.”
Webster recommends common sense when conducting outdoor burning, and suggests keeping a rake, shovel and water hose nearby in case a fire does escape. If a fire breaks over into the woods, Webster says to call 911 immediately.
In the case of an escaped fire, the person who set it is liable for the costs of fighting the fire and must pay for any damages to other people’s property. This also may result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $300.
For more information about the state’s outdoor burning laws, visit the Division of Forestry’s Web site at www.wvforestry.com.