The season starts on Friday and continues though Dec. 31. During this time it will be illegal to burn anything outdoors between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Exceptions to the burn hours are small cooking or warming fires, such as camp fires, or fires for which a permit has been issued by the West Virginia Division of Forestry. Burning permits are only issued for commercial and industrial burning operations.
All outdoor fires and campfires must have a 10-feet wide safety strip completely around them where all flammable materials, including leaves and dead grass, have been cleared. Fires must be attended to at all times until it is completely out — every last ember in the fire must be extinguished. Those who violate the fire season rules will be subject to a fine. The deliberate setting of a wildfire on another person’s land is felony arson and is punishable by years in prison with fines up to $5,000. If a fire escapes from the controlled area, those responsible will be required to pay a fine as well as the cost of extinguishing the wildfire.
According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, the fire rules are in place because wildfires present a threat to public safety by endangering lives and property as well as damaging forest resources. Ninety-nine percent of wildfires in West Virginia are caused by human activities. In addition, while the majority of wildfires are a result of debris burning, the fall forest fire season has hunting-related hazards as well. Those who plan to hunt this season are asked to check and make sure that their ATV spark arrestor is in working order. In addition, hunters are warned to be careful with warming fires, and those who smoke while hunting are asked to put the cigarette butt completely out as well as carry it out of the woods. As usual, it is illegal to smoke out game.
For more information on forest fire laws, contact the local West Virginia Division of Forestry office, located at the Clements State Tree Nursery on 624 Forestry Drive in West Columbia or call 304-675-1820. For more information regarding the West Virginia Division of Forestry, visit the Web site, www.wvforestry.com.