The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and fire departments throughout Virginia are reminding the public about the 4 p.m. burn ban, which began Tuesday, Feb. 15.
The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodlands, brush, or fields with dry grass and other flammable materials.
More than 60% of the commonwealth’s annual average of 700 wildfires happen in the spring, especially in March and April.
Many areas have had a lot of moisture recently, but Virginia is still recovering from a significant deficit last year. Sunny days with brisk winds can easily dry out fuels such as storm-downed limbs, increasing the potential for wildfires.
Even though burning is allowed from 4 p.m. to midnight, the Virginia Department of Forestry says people burning debris should be cautious of weather conditions and winds. “The 4 p.m. burning law is one of the most important tools we have in the prevention of wildfires in Virginia,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of fire and emergency response. “The number one cause of wildfires in the commonwealth is people burning yard debris and/or trash, and the 4 p.m. burning law goes a long way toward reducing the risk associated with wildfires each year.”
Violation of the burn law is a Class 3 misdemeanor and is punishable with a fine of up to $500. Forestry officials say those who allow a fire to “escape” are liable for the cost of suppressing the blaze and any property damage it causes.