West Virginia's spring forest fire season starts March 1 and runs through May 31.

During these three months, daytime burning is prohibited between the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outdoor burning is permitted only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.

State law requires a ring or safety strip around outdoor fires to keep them from spreading into the woods. This safety strip must be cleared of all burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide completely around the debris pile.

Additional requirements of the state's fire laws include staying on-site until the fire is completely extinguished, and burning only vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings.

Anyone who allows a fire to escape and cause a wildfire or forest fire will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. An additional civil penalty of $200 also will be assessed.

The only daytime burning that is allowed during fire season is that done by public utilities and people burning in conjunction with commercial, manufacturing, mining or like activities.

This type of commercial burning requires a burning permit that costs $125 and is issued by a local Division of Forestry office. A permit is required for each site where this type of burning is taking place.

Private landowners burning during the course of agricultural activities must have a permit to burn during the day, but are exempt from the $125 permit fee.

Burning permits are not issued for residential burning of small amounts of yard debris such as leaves, branches or yard clippings.

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