The spring forest fire season for WV begins Saturday, March 1, and will continue until May 31.
According to a news release issued by the West Virginia Division of Forestry, daytime burning is prohibited between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and that outdoor burning is only permitted from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The news release says that state law requires a ring or safety strip around outdoor fires to keep the fire from spreading into the woods, and also that this safety strip must be cleared of all burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide completely around the debris pile.
According to the news release, additional requirements of the state's fire laws include staying on-site until the fire is completely extinguished, as well as only burning vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings. The news release goes on to say that if someone allows a fire they have started to escape and it causes a wildfire or forest fire, they will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000, and an additional civil penalty of $200 will also be assessed against them.
The West Virginia 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.
-Contact local city government offices for possible burning ordinances when burning within city limits.
According to the news release, burning permits that allow burning during the restricted times may be obtained by public utilities and people burning in conjunction with commercial, manufacturing, mining or like activities. The news release also says that these burning permits cost $125 each and are issued by local Division of Forestry offices, and they are required for each site where this type of burning takes place.
The news release goes on to say that burning permits may also be obtained for agricultural purposes, and that no fee is required for these types of permits. However, burning permits are not issued for the burning of yard waste, such as leaves, twigs, and branches.