CHARLESTON, WV (WBOY) – The spring fire season is quickly approaching. The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF) wants to make sure that the public is aware of safety regulations that come into effect.
The annual spring fire season starts March 1 and continues through May 31. The season marks the return of burning restrictions, prohibiting open burns between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
According to the WVDOF, more than 99% of all wildfires in West Virginia are caused by people, directly or indirectly. Burning debris accounts for 35% of all wildfires during the past 10 years.
The WVDOF’s website provides safety regulations for outdoor fires. These include:
- All fires must have a ring or safety strip.
- The safety strip itself must be cleared of burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide.
- The fire must be attended until completely extinguished.
- Only vegetative materials such as leaves, brush, and yard clippings are permitted to be burnt.
- Spark-throwing machinery such as power shovels or sawmills operating on land subject to fire must contain an adequate spark arrestor.
- Inflammable waste disposal areas must annually remove all grass, brush, debris, and other inflammable material adjacent to disposal areas to provide adequate protection, preventing the escape of fire to adjacent lands.
Commercial enterprises such as manufacturing must purchase a permit before burning during prohibited periods. Local WVDOF offices issue permits.
A permit is required for each commercial burning site.
Any person or company who’s caused a fire on any grass or forest land must reimburse the State for costs to suppress the fire. Fines for forest fires due to negligence range from $100 to $1,000 with an additional civil penalty of $200.