CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF) reminds residents that spring burning restrictions start on Wednesday, March 1.

According to the West Virginia State Code, outdoor burning must occur only between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. in the spring. Fires set during that time period MUST be out by 7 a.m., the WVDOF says.

Other spring burn laws include:

  • All fires must have a ring or safety strip;
    • The strip must be clear of burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide;
  • Fires must be attended to until completely out;
  • Only vegetative materials (leaves, brush and yard clippings) are allowed to be burnt;
  • Spark-throwing equipment (power shovels or sawmills) must have a spark arrestor when operating on flammable grounds; and
  • Flammable waste disposal areas must be cleared yearly of grass, brush, debris or other burnable materials to prevent fire exposure to nearby lands.

The statewide spring burning season will last until May 31.

Jeremy Jones, Assistant State Forester with the WVDOF, says over 99% of wildfires in the state are caused by humans. In addition, people burning debris caused 35% of West Virginia’s wildfires within the past 10 years, Jones says.

Just in 2023, fire crews have already battled numerous brush and forest fires, according to Jones.

“Since January 1, we have responded to 162 fires that have burned approximately 1144.1 acres,” Jones says. “Even though it seems that we have had some wet weather leading up to our spring fire season, I would like to remind everyone that it doesn’t take much sun and wind to dry out our fine fuels that allow fires to spread rapidly.”

The WVDOF says any person or company who negligently causes a wildfire must pay the state for the costs to extinguish it. The fines range from $100 to $1,000, plus a $200 civil penalty.

Commercial agencies may burn during prohibited periods with a special permit issued by the WVDOF. A permit is needed for each commercial burning site.

The WVDOF says burn laws protect one of West Virginia’s most valuable resources — forests.

For more information on state burn laws, visit the WVDOF’s website.