More than 60 percent of the 700 wildfires reported in Virginia each year occur in the spring.
Rising temperatures, dry and windy weather and abundant fuels such as frost-killed vegetation and dead leaves, increase the potential for wildfires and make them harder to extinguish.
This is the background for the statewide burning law that goes into effect in Virginia beginning on Thursday and running through April 30.
“Last fall, Virginia experienced extreme fire activity that provided a stark reminder of the importance of safe burning practices,” said John Miller, the Chief of Fire and Emergency Response at the Virginia Department of Forestry. “Simple safety measures are easy to follow and significantly reduce the likelihood of an escaped fire, the number one cause of wildfires.”
The statewide burning law prohibits outdoor burning before 4 p.m. when the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass.
Violation of the burning law is a Class-3 misdemeanor and punishable with a fine up to $500. Those who allow a fire to escape may be liable for suppression costs and any resulting property damage.
The burning law applies to all open-air fires such as debris burning, campfires and charcoal grills like those found in park settings. This law does not apply to charcoal or gas-fired barbecue grills. Some exceptions to the law are made for campfires at Virginia State Parks.
To learn more about Virginia’s 4 p.m. burning law and fire prevention, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry website: dof.virginia.gov/wildland-prescribed-fire/fire-laws/4-pm-burning-law.
Keep these things in mind this spring fire season:
- Burning is allowed between 4 p.m. and midnight as long as proper precautions are taken
- Never leave a fire unattended
- Avoid burning during dry and windy conditions
- No fire may be started, and no fuels can be added to a fire after midnight
- Have a shovel, rake and a charged hose on hand to control the fire
- Call 911 if a fire escapes your control