Fall Wildfire Season begins October 15 in Virginia

Posted at 11:26 AM, Oct 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-01 11:26:42-04

Daylight is getting shorter; nights are getting cooler.

Summer has officially ended, but fall wildfire season is here.

Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry want to keep you and your family safe from the ravages of wildfire.

“While Virginia’s most active wildfire season is typically in spring, fall can be just as busy,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection.

“We didn’t have a lot of rain this summer, and the dead leaves are starting to drop from the trees. This ‘leaf litter’ is an abundant source of fuel for wildfires, which can spread rapidly during dry and windy days.”

With more than 62 percent of Virginia’s land base (15.8 million acres) being forested, there are almost 360,000 homes and more than 1 million Virginians living
in areas defined as woodland communities. “That’s a lot of lives and property at risk due to wildfire,” Miller said.

State Forester Bettina Ring said, “Preventing a wildfire from ever starting is critical to the safety and security of our citizens.

And, since most wildfires (96 percent) in Virginia are caused by human activity, if people are careful and pay attention to weather conditions, they can keep themselves and their property safe by not letting a wildfire start.”

Precautions include: clearing the burn spot and surrounding area down to mineral soil; keeping the burn pile small; having tools like a shovel or a rake on hand; ensuring a charged water hose or other water source is at the ready; having a working cell phone with you so that you can call 911 as soon as the fire escapes your control, and remaining with the fire until it’s completely out. You must also check the weather conditions in your area before you start to burn. If it’s been several days since it’s rained, humidity levels are low and the winds are higher than 10 miles per hour, wait until conditions improve; otherwise, it’s quite likely your fire will become a wildfire.

Fall wildfire season runs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 each year.