Spring wildfire season ends in Virginia: Outdoor burning before 4 p.m. now allowed
Virginia’s 75-year-old 4 p.m. Burn Law, which is in effect from February 15 through April 30 each year, has ended for this year as spring wildfire season concluded Thursday. Spring is always an active time for wildfires in Virginia as warm, dry air, high winds and dry leaves, grass and tree limbs make conditions ripe for fire each year.
During this year’s spring wildfire season, VDOF crews responded to 338 wildfires that burned a total of 3,468 acres of forestland across the Commonwealth. VDOF wildland firefighters protected 295 homes and 261 other structures between February 15 and April 30. The value of the homes and structures protected exceeds $50 million.
“This year’s figures are a little below average,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection. “We had some significant snowfalls along with a fair amount of rain since January 1st, which helped keep the number of fire occurrences and acres burned on the lower end of the scale.”
Most of the fires this spring were contained at just a few acres, but one fire (in Botetourt County) burned a total of 1,676 acres on Short Hill Mountain before it was suppressed. The cause of that large fire was the improper dumping of hot ashes from a fireplace or wood stove.
“The number one cause of wildfires this spring remained the burning of trash or yard debris,” Miller said. “Each and every one of these wildfires could have been prevented, and no lives or property would have been put at risk if people took the proper precautions and heeded the weather reports before they started their fires.”
Miller reminds everyone that just because the “official” spring fire season has ended and that burning is once again allowed before 4 p.m. that they should still be careful with fire and pay attention to the weather conditions (if humidity levels are low and winds are over 15 miles per hour, postpone your burning activities until conditions improve).
The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians. Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide citizen service and public safety protection across the Commonwealth, which it’s been doing now for more than 100 years. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.
With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 103,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $17 Billion annually.