Home Department of Forestry to Virginians: No open-air burning until after 4 p.m.

Department of Forestry to Virginians: No open-air burning until after 4 p.m.

trash in barrel for burning
(© Любовь Клепиковская – stock.adobe.com)

As warmer weather reaches the state, the Virginia Department of Forestry is reminding residents that open-air burning of any kind is restricted until after 4 p.m. The VDOF responded to more than 150 wildfires last month. The wildfires burned approximately 1,400 acres.

The 4 p.m. burning law remains in effect through April 30.

“April is one of Virginia’s busiest months in terms of wildfire activity each year,” said VDOF Director of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “As we enter April, days are increasingly warm and windy. When these conditions combine with lower humidity, fire danger increases dramatically. If you plan on doing any outdoor burning, take the proper precautions.”

Unsafe equipment is a common cause of wildfires, according to VDOF.

Tips for avoiding wildfires due to unsafe equipment:

  • Avoid driving through or parking on dry grass or brush, as hot exhaust pipes can set vegetation on fire. Sparks from lawnmowers and power equipment can also start wildfires.
  • Mow before 10 a.m.
  • Never mow when it’s windy or excessively dry
  • Remember that lawnmowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass.

The leading cause of wildfires in Virginia every spring is escaped debris burning.

Follow these tips when burning debris:

  • No open-air burning until after 4 p.m.
  • Check for local burn bans in your area
  • Avoid burning on dry, windy days
  • Keep your burn pile small
  • Have a rake or shovel and a charged water hose on hand
  • Have a phone ready to call 911 if a fire escapes your control
  • Stay with your fire until it’s completely out

In 2023, suppression efforts by VDOF and local firefighters have resulted in more than 170 homes and buildings saved with a value in the millions.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.