Norfolk, Va.- The commencement of the 75-day spring wildfire season is set for 4 p.m. on Sunday the 15th for the Commonwealth.
According to Virginia Department of Forestry records, 95 percent of all wildfires are caused the Commonwealth are caused by people burning trash and debris. Therefore, citizens must stay on high alert especially now through April 30th. Open burning with a permit is allowed from 4 p.m. to midnight only during this time frame.
“The best thing people can do is obey the law by not burning trash or debris before 4 p.m. each day during spring fire season,” says State Forester Bettina Ring.
The Virginia 4 p.m. law has existed since 1950 and has proven to be of great value in reducing the risk of wildfires. This is due to the fact that wind speeds tend to decrease after 4 p.m. while humidity levels typically increase; therefore, the chance of fire escaping someone’s control is radically reduced.
Yet, VDOF director of resource protection John Miller says to be wary when burning even after 4 p.m. due to the fact that “if wind speed is in excess of 20 miles per hour and humidity levels are below 30 percent, please don’t light a fire. The chances are high that the fire will escape-and that’s a life safety issue for you, your family and neighbors.”
Not only is starting a fire before 4 p.m. dangerous during the 75 day spring wildfire season, but it’s a Class 3 misdemeanor crime. Individuals can receive up to a $500 fine, and the person responsible for the fire’s escape is financially liable for the cost of suppressing the fire, as well as the damage caused to another’s property.
The summer burn ban will be in effect May 1 through September 30, 2015.
To learn more about the 4 p.m. Burn Law, alternatives to burning debris, and the spring wildfire season, visit www.dof.virginia.gov.