CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Oct. 1 marks the beginning of fall fire season and will continue through Dec. 31. 

The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF) has sent out a reminder to keep outdoor burning between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. in accordance with West Virginia State Code Chapter 20-3-5.

“As we start into our fall fire season, I ask that everyone please use a little common sense and follow our burning laws. Please refrain from burning on hot and windy evenings, even if you are permitted to do so, and wait for a wet evening to conduct your burning,” said assistant state forester-fire Jeremy Jones, WVDOF. 

According to the WVDOF, “debris burning is the single most common cause of wildfires in West Virginia, averaging more than 35% of all wildfires over the past 10 years.” The reason for this warning is that, as summer turns to fall, there is less moisture in the air for grasses and leaf litter. Due to this, the forest floor debris becomes more flammable.

Also, burning is banned during the day because relative humidity typically increases in the evening, even in the fall.

Notable fire safety laws include: 

  • No outdoor burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Any fire set between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. must be extinguished before 7 a.m.
  • Fires must be attended at all times.
  • Before leaving any fire for any length of time, the fire must be completely extinguished.
  • Clear at least a 10-foot area (safety strip) around the fire and make sure all burnable material has been removed.
  • Any equipment that can throw sparks and operate on land subject to fire by any cause must be provided with an adequate spark arrestor. 
  • If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause.
  • Violation of the burning law is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

To burn during prohibited periods, you need to obtain a permit from the Division of Forestry. A summary of forest fire laws and safe fire practices can be found here.

For more information on fire safety and programs, visit wvforestry.com.