The West Virginia Spring Forest Fire Season began March 1 and continues through May 31. During these months, outdoor burning may be conducted only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 a.m. Cooler temperatures, increased humidity, and calmer winds make evening hours the safest time to burn debris outdoors.

Besides restricting daytime burning in spring months, the West Virginia Code outlines other fire laws that apply year-round. These Forest Fire Laws state that before leaving any fire for any period of time, it must be totally extinguished.

The area in which the fire is to be built must be cleared down to mineral soil for a minimum distance of 10 feet around what is being burned. Anyone caught breaking the law can be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $300, and held liable for costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may have caused to others.

Spring is an especially dangerous time for forest fires in West Virginia because landowners take advantage of warm, dry weather to burn debris that has accumulated over the fall and winter months.

In West Virginia, it is illegal to burn household trash or other solid waste, asphalt, rubber, plastic, or asbestos-containing materials. Only vegetative material such as leaves, grass, weeds, brush, stubble, and stumps may be burned.

Travis Wilfong, Service Forester for Calhoun and Gilmer Counties, said that to help keep the public informed about the day's fire danger level, the Division of Forestry has installed Smokey Bear Fire Danger signs at locations across the Mountain State, including local volunteer fire departments and State Forests. These signs display the local fire danger as follows: LOW, MODERATE, HIGH, VERY HIGH, or EXTREME.

"Residents should be aware of the conditions and refrain from burning outdoors if the fire danger is high, very high, or extreme," Wilfong said.

For more information, contact Service Forester Travis Wilfong at (304) 420-4515 or (304) 927-0965

or visit the Division of Forestry's website, www.wvforestry.com

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