CHARLESTON, W.V. — Autumn traditionally signals cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors and the start of the fall fire season.
Fall fire season begins today, Thursday, Oct. 1, and continues through Dec. 31. Burning vegetative materials is limited to the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. Any fires set during that time must be extinguished before 7 a.m.
“The restrictions are there to protect West Virginia’s people, property and forests,” said Division of Forestry Director Tom Cover. “Humidity levels are typically lower in fall than in summer. Dry leaves and forest floor debris become more flammable. After 5 p.m., relative humidity increases, the leaf litter absorbs moisture, and the material become less flammable.”
The Division of Forestry reports that debris burning ranks as the state’s leading cause of fires.
A summary of forest fire laws can be found on the Division of Forestry’s website at wvforestry.com/laws-regulations/fire.
The fire safe law includes:
- No burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Fires must be attended at all times.
- Before leaving any fire for any length of time, the fire must be completely extinguished.
- Clear at least a 10-foot area (safety strip) around the fire and make sure all burnable material has been removed.
- If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause.
- Violation of the burning law is punishable by a fine up to $1,000.
Commercial burning permits to burn from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. can be obtained from local Division of Forestry offices. Commercial burning permits are issued only to companies, contractors and industries for large amounts of debris that cannot be burned overnight.
The Division of Forestry protects nearly 12 million acres of forestland across West Virginia. More information on fire safety and programs such as forest legacy, logging and landowner assistance, visit the website wvforestry.com.