West Virginia Division of Forestry Reminds Residents to Use Caution During Fire Season
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) reminds residents that Fall fire season started on October 1 and continues through December 31 and asks that West Virginians use caution at this time. In 2023 to date, West Virginia has experienced 916 fires, burning approximately 11,340 acres, with 114 of those fires happening since October 1.
“Right now, we are asking West Virginia residents to refrain from calling local county emergency services centers for smoke complaints in an effort to reduce false alarm calls that can pull resources away from local volunteer fire departments,” said State Forester and Director of WV DOF, Jeremy Jones. “However, if you see a fire or column of smoke rising from a specific place, please call 911 immediately.”
Debris burning is the single most common cause of wildfires in West Virginia, averaging more than 35% of all wildfires over the past 10 years. WV DOF reminds West Virginians to confine their outdoor burning to the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. according to the West Virginia State Code Chapter 20-3-5. Fires set during that time must be put out before 7 a.m.
Burning is banned during the day because even in fall, relative humidity typically increases in the evening.
A summary of forest fire laws and safe fire practices can be found on the state Division of Forestry website here.
The forest fire law includes:
- No outdoor burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Any fire set between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. must be extinguished before 7 a.m.
- 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.
- Any equipment that can throw sparks and operating on land subject to fire by any cause must be provided with an adequate spark arrestor.
- 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.
To burn during prohibited periods for commercial burning, a permit must be obtained from the Division of Forestry.
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.