WV fall forest fire laws start this week

West Virginia

FILE – In this Aug. 16, 2021, file photo, a firefighter battles the Dixie Fire as it jumps Highway 395, south of Janesville in Lassen County, Calif. Critical fire weather throughout the region has spread multiple wildfires burning in Northern California. Wildfire managers are often asked why firefighters simply don’t put out the flames to save their homes and the valuable forests surrounding them. It’s not that simple, wildfire managers say, and the reasons are many, some of them decades in the making. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia fall forest fire season begins on Friday, Oct. 1, and while West Virginia isn’t known for its forest fires, there are still some steps you can take to make sure your fires are safe.

Here is a reminder of some requirements and restrictions for the fall season that you may have forgotten:

  • No burning is authorized during the daytime hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Only naturally occurring vegetation and materials can be burned. 
  • Someone needs to be with the fire at all times. 
  • A 10-foot safety area needs to be cleared to dirt level around the fire. 
  • Open fires must be 50-feet away from any structure.
  • If your fire escapes, you are responsible for the cost of fighting the fire and any damage the fire causes
  • Violation of burning laws may result in a fine of up to $1,000. 

The Morgantown Fire Department reminds residents that outdoor burning is prohibited between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless a burning permit is issued by the West Virginia Forestry Department. Special commercial burning permits may be obtained from the local West Virginia Forestry Office in Farmington, West Virginia at 304-825-6983.

The 5 p.m. burning law will stay in effect until Jan. 1, 2022, and applies all outdoor burning fires in West Virginia except small fires for cooking, light or warmth. But even those fires must have all grass, brush and debris removed for a distance of ten feet from the fire in all directions. Burning when the ground surrounding the burning site is covered by one inch or more of snow is also permitted.

No burning may be done unless all inflammable material has been removed from around the material to be burned as a safety strip for a distance of at least 10 feet. This ensures that the fire will not escape. If the fire does escape beyond the safety strip, the person responsible will be guilty of a misdemeanor, according to the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF).

West Virginia Forest Fire Laws from the WVDOF include:

  • Before leaving ANY fire for ANY period of time, it must be totally extinguished.
  • All engines and machines capable of throwing sparks must have an adequate spark arrestor.
  • All dumps containing inflammable waste on ANY land must remove all grass, brush, debris and other inflammable material near the desponsal area every year.
  • If these rules are neglected and cause a fire, the state can charge the violater the amount that the state spent on the fire.
  • Landowners must try by all means to put our fires on their property. If they cant, the state can charge them the amount needed for the state to put it out.

To view the full list of rules, click here.

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