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West Virginia implements spring fire season restrictions to combat wildfire risk

CHARLESTON — As West Virginia welcomes the onset of its annual spring fire season, the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) is reinstating burning restrictions to safeguard the state’s woodlands. According to a recent announcement by the WV DOF, residents are advised to limit their outdoor burning activities to the hours between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., in compliance with West Virginia State Code Chapter 20-3-5. Any fires initiated during these designated times must be extinguished before 7 a.m.

State Forester Jeremy Jones highlighted the urgency of adhering to these guidelines, noting, “Since January 1, we have responded to 95 fires that have burned approximately 389.1 acres.” This statistic underscores the critical need for vigilance and strict adherence to fire safety protocols during this vulnerable period.

The restrictions, designed to minimize the risk of wildfires, will be in force until May 31, marking the end of the spring fire season. The WV DOF has detailed the regulations on its website, emphasizing the necessity for a safety strip around fires, which must be cleared of all burnable materials and be at least 10 feet wide. Additionally, it is mandatory for fires to be constantly monitored until they are completely extinguished. Only vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush, and yard clippings, are allowed for burning.

The announcement further specifies requirements for the use of spark-throwing machinery and the maintenance of inflammable waste disposal areas, aimed at preventing the spread of fires.

“Our fire laws protect one of West Virginia‚Äôs most valuable resources: our forests,” Jones stated, urging the public to familiarize themselves with the guidelines provided on their website to prevent fire outbreaks.

For commercial entities wishing to burn during the restricted periods, the WV DOF mandates obtaining a permit from local offices, with each commercial burning site requiring its own permit. Moreover, individuals or companies responsible for accidental fires on grass or forest land will be held accountable for the suppression costs, facing fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 and an additional civil penalty of $200 for forest fires caused by negligence.

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