|The West Virginia Division of Forestry reminds residents that the state's spring forest fire season starts on March 1, and runs through May 31. |
During these three months, daytime burning is prohibited from 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 the fire 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 only burning vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings.
If you allow a fire you have started to escape and it causes a wildfire or forest fire, you will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. An additional civil penalty of $200 also will be assessed.
The Division of Forestry offers these tips for safe outdoor burning:
•Burn only after 5 p.m. — it's the law — and put your fire out completely by 7 a.m.
•Put debris in several small piles instead of one large one
•Never burn on dry, windy days
•Select a safe place away from overhead power lines, phone lines or other obstructions and where the fire cannot spread into the woods or weedy or brushy areas
•Clear at least a 10-foot area around the fire and make sure the area is clear of all burnable material
•Have water and tools on hand to extinguish anything that may escape the burn area
•Be conscientious of neighbors and don't burn debris that produces a lot of smoke at times when smoke does not rise. If the smoke spreads out near the ground instead of rising, put out the fire and burn another time.
•Stay with the fire at all times until it is completely out. Leaving a fire unattended for any length of time is illegal.
•Call 911 immediately if a fire does escape
Commercial burning permits may be obtained by public utilities and people burning in conjunction with commercial, manufacturing, mining or like activities. These burning permits cost $125 each and are issued by local Division of Forestry offices. A permit is required for each site where this type of burning takes place.
FOREST FIRE STATISTICS FROM RECENT YEARS
Fall 2012 - 295 fires burned 10,277 acres
Spring 2012 - 434 fires burned 5,594 acres
2011 - 474 fires burned 5,709 acres
2010 - 766 fires burned 22,911 acres
2009 - 984 fires burned 14,973 acres
2008 - 889 fires burned 13,151 acres
2007 - 849 fires burned 7,122 acres
2006 - 1,022 fires burned 17,608 acres
2005 - 757 fires burned 12,436 acres
2004 - 632 fires burned 6,022 acres
2003 - 669 fires burned 8,370 acres
2002 - 959 fires burned 10,024 acres
2001 - 887 fires burned 86,465 acres