CHARLESTON - West Virginia Forestry officials wish to remind everyone that the statutory fire season opens Oct. 1, and will stay in effect until Dec. 31.
During this time period, outdoor burning is prohibited between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.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 foot wide 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 against you.
The Division of Forestry offers these tips for safe outdoor burning:
Burn only after 5 p.m., this is the law, and make sure the fire is extinguished completely by 7 a.m. Put debris in several small piles instead of one large one. Never light a fire on dry days or under windy conditions. Select a safe place away from overhead power lines, phone lines or other obstructions and where fire cannot spread into the woods or into weedy or brushy areas.
Clear at least a 10 ft. 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 toward the sky, put out the fire and make plans to burn the debris at a later date.
Always stay with the fire at all times until it is completely extinguished. Leaving a fire unattended for any length of time is illegal. Immediately call 911 or your local fire department if a fire does escape its boundaries or poses a threat to property, dwelling or business.
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.
To find out more about West Virginia’s burning laws and where you may obtain a burning permit, you may visit the Division of Forestry’s website at www.wvforestry.com, or you may contact Ben Brock, Mingo County Forestry Fire Warden at his Logan office by calling 304-792-7005.