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Safe fire practices continue after spring fire season ends

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Division of Forestry (WV DOF) reminds residents that although spring fire season ended May 31, fire safety is a year-round necessity.

The close of fire season lifted the restriction against outdoor burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. From June 01 to September 30, outdoor burning may be done any time of day without a permit.  A safety strip at least 10 feet in width must be cleared from around the debris to be burned and the fire must be attended at all times. Department of Environmental Protection regulations prohibits outdoor burning of material classified as solid waste.

So far this spring fire season, the WV DOF has received reports of 5792.6 acres burned. Of those reported fires, 42 percent were caused by debris burning. Equipment use stands as the second highest cause of forest fires in West Virginia, accounting for 26 percent.

The WV DOF provides basic fire prevention tips that include:

  • Put debris in several small piles instead of one large one.
  • Never burn on dry, windy days.
  • Select a safe place away from overhead power lines, phone lines or other obstructions and where the fire cannot spread into the woods, weeds or brush.
  • Clear away all burnable materials to create a safety strip of at least 10 feet around the fire.
  • Have water and tools on hand to extinguish anything that may escape the burn area.
  • Be considerate of neighbors. Don’t burn debris that produces a lot of smoke at times when smoke does not rise. If the smoke spreads out near the ground instead of rising, put out the fire and burn another time.
  • Stay with the fire at all times until it is completely out. Leaving a fire unattended for any length of time is illegal.
  • Call 911 immediately if a fire does escape.
  • Contact local city government offices for possible burning ordinances when burning within city limits.

For campfires, firewood should be obtained and used locally. By not transporting firewood into or out of the state or to other areas of the state, residents can help discourage the spread of destructive pests such as the emerald ash borer —  an invasive beetle that infests and kills ash trees — and the invasive European gypsy moth, whose voracious larvae cause widespread tree defoliation.  The larva and eggs of destructive pests can be spread by transporting firewood from infested to uninfested areas.

The Division of Forestry protects nearly 12 million acres of forestland across West Virginia. More information on fire safety and programs such as forest legacy, logging and landowner assistance, visit the website www.wvforestry.com.

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