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West Virginia Fire Danger Season
SPRING FOREST FIRE SEASON IN EFFECT THROUGH MAY 31

West Virginia's spring forest fire season starts March 1, 2013, and runs through May 31, 2013. During these three months, daytime burning is prohibited from the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outdoor burning is permitted only between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.

State law requires a ring or safety strip around outdoor fires to keep them from spreading into the woods. This safety strip must be cleared of all burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide completely around the debris pile.

Additional requirements of the state's fire laws include staying on-site until the fire is completely extinguished, and burning only vegetative materials like leaves, brush and yard clippings.

SMOKEY BEAR FIRE DANGER SIGNS
Smokey Bear Fire Danger Sign
To help keep the public informed about the day's fire danger level, the DOF has installed Smokey Bear Fire Danger signs at locations across the Mountain State, including local volunteer fire departments and State Forests. These signs display the local fire danger. Residents should be aware of the conditions and refrain from any burning outdoors if the fire danger is moderate, high, very high, or extreme.

Fire Danger Level: Low
When the fire danger is "low" it means that fuels do not ignite easily from small embers, but a more intense heat source, such as lightning, may start fires in duff or dry rotten wood. Fires in open, dry grasslands may burn easily a few hours after a rain, but most wood fires will spread slowly, creeping or smoldering. Control of fires is generally easy.

Fire Danger Level: Moderate
When the fire danger is "moderate" it means that fires can start from most accidental causes, but the number of fire starts is usually pretty low. If a fire does start in an open, dry grassland, it will burn and spread quickly on windy days. Most wood fires will spread slowly to moderately. Average fire intensity will be moderate except in heavy concentrations of fuel, which may burn hot. Fires are still not likely to become serious and are often easy to control.

Fire Danger Level: High
When the fire danger is "high", fires can start easily from most causes and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite readily. Unattended campfires and brush fires are likely to escape. Fires will spread easily, with some areas of high-intensity burning on slopes or concentrated fuels. Fires can become serious and difficult to control unless they are put out while they are still small.

Fire Danger Level: Very High
When the fire danger is "very high", fires will start easily from most causes. The fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.

Fire Danger Level: Extreme
When the fire danger is "extreme", fires of all types start quickly and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious and can spread very quickly with intense burning. Small fires become big fires much faster than at the "very high" level. Spot fires are probable, with long-distance spotting likely. These fires are very difficult to fight and may become very dangerous and often last for several days.
Anyone who allows a fire to escape and cause a wildfire or forest fire will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. An additional civil penalty of $200 also will be assessed.

The only daytime burning that is allowed during fire season is that done by public utilities and people burning in conjunction with commercial, manufacturing, mining or like activities. This type of commercial burning requires a burning permit that costs $125 and is issued by a local Division of Forestry office. A permit is required for each site where this type of burning is taking place.

Private landowners burning during the course of agricultural activities must have a permit to burn during the day, but are exempt from the $125 permit fee. Burning permits are not issued for residential burning of small amounts of yard debris such as leaves, branches or yard clippings.

Residents can help prevent forest fires by refraining from burning if dry or windy conditions exist. Smokey Bear Fire Danger Warning Signs are posted throughout the State to notify the public of the potential for forest fires in their area. The signs show danger levels from low to extreme. Any level above low should be an indicator to residents to be extremely careful when burning outdoors or to refrain from burning altogether until their area receives measurable rainfall.

The DOF's top priority has always been and continues to be protecting the State's forest resource from the ravages of wildfire. At the turn of the 20th century, wildfires devastated West Virginia's forests. In 1908, more than 1.7 million acres of forestland were destroyed by fire. As a result of this devastation, the West Virginia Reform Law of 1909 was established to protect the State's only renewable resource, the forest. Today the DOF is reponsible for protecting nearly 12 million acres of forestland across West Virginia.

Through their carelessness, people cause the majority of forest fires in West Virginia. In 2010, 76% of all forest fires were due to three main causes: escaped debris fires, arson fires and equipment use. Escaped debris burning attributed to 234 fires or 30% of all fires. Arson or incendiary fires were the cause of 208 fires or 27% of all fires. Equipment use in or near the forest created another 145 fires or 19% of all fires.

Other causes that lead to fires in West Virginia include campfires, children, railroads, smokers and lightning.

For more information about the 2012 Spring Forest Fire Season, visit the W.Va. Division of Forestry's web site at www.wvforestry.com.




WEST VIRGINIA FOREST FIRE LAWS

The periods of each year between March 1 and May 31, inclusive, and October 1 and December 31, inclusive, are hereby designated as Forest Fire Seasons.

No person shall during ANY such fire season, except between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. prevailing time, set on fire or cause to be set on fire any forest land, or any grass, grain, stubble, slash, debris, or other inflammable materials. Any fire set during this time shall be extinguished prior to 7:00 a.m. prevailing time. Such prohibition of fires between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. prevailing time shall not be construed to include (1) small fires set for the purpose of food preparation, or providing light or warmth around which all grass, brush, stubble, or other debris has been removed for a distance of ten feet from the fire, and (2) burning which may be conducted at any time when the ground surrounding the burning site is covered by one inch or more of snow.

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 which insures that the fire will not escape and which is not less than 10 feet. If fire escapes beyond the safety strip, the person responsible shall be guilty of misdemeanor.

  • Before leaving ANY fire for ANY period of time, it must be totally extinguished.

  • Commercial permits to burn during the prohibited periods may be issued by the Division of Forestry.

  • All sawmills, power shovels, or an engine or machine capable of throwing sparks must be provided with an adequate spark arrestor if operating on land subject to fire by any cause.

  • All inflammable waste disposal areas on ANY land must annually have removed all grass, brush, debris and other inflammable material adjacent to such disposal areas to provide adequate protection to prevent the escape of fire to adjacent lands.

  • The State shall recover from the person or persons, firms or corporations whose negligence or whose violations of any provisions of this article cause ANY fire at ANY time on any grass or forest land the amount expended by the State.

  • A landowner must take all practicable means to suppress ANY fire on his property. If he fails to do so, the State shall collect from him the amounts expended by the State for such purposes.









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