Home Leading source of wildfires in Virginia: Burning yard debris

Leading source of wildfires in Virginia: Burning yard debris

Crystal Graham
burning leaves
(© lovelyday12 – stock.adobe.com)

Virginia’s fall wildfire season begins Oct. 15. The Virginia Department of Forestry reminds everyone to be extra careful when burning yard debris or enjoying a campfire or backyard fire pit.

VDOF has forestry staff assigned to every county across the state who work with local fire departments to provide emergency response to protect people, property and natural resources.

While there is no statewide 4 p.m. burn ban this fall, be sure to always check with local fire officials in your area for possible regional restrictions or bans.

In Virginia, debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires. This time of year, burning leaves, branches and other yard waste is common. Dry grass and leaves, low humidity and windy conditions create favorable conditions for wildfires.

“Virginia’s fall wildfire season runs from mid-October through November,” said John Miller, VDOF director of fire and emergency response. “As we see all too often with natural disasters and emergencies, the time to prepare is long before a crisis hits. Create a plan now that you can quickly put into action if you need it.”

Burning yard debris tips

  • Avoid burning on dry, windy days
  • Keep your pile small
  • Have a rake or shovel on hand
  • Keep a charged water hose nearby
  • Have a phone ready to call 911 if a fire escapes your control
  • Stay with your fire until it’s completely out (drown, stir, ensure it’s cool)
  • Consider a “green” alternative to burning yard debris: compost your organic yard waste for your garden or yard

To learn more about protecting your home and family in the event of a wildfire, visit https://dof.virginia.gov/wildland-prescribed-fire/wildfire-preparation/

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.