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4pm spring Burning Law now in effect

From the Virginia Department of Forestry

In Virginia, spring brings increased wildfire potential and a greater threat for escaped fires. Virginia’s spring wildland fire season and accompanying 4 PM Burning Law officially began Monday, February 15. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day between February 15 and April 30 if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of woodland, brush or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials. In addition to being tended at all times, fires started after 4 p.m. should not have additional material added to the burn after midnight. If weather conditions become critical, localities often add further
restrictions to outdoor burning at the town, city, and county levels. So, be sure to check with your local officials before burning.

Ninety-five percent of wildland fires in Virginia are human-caused. The majority of escaped fires result from people burning debris, such as accumulated brush piles or trash, on dry and windy days. Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) officials emphasize that citizens should take extreme caution, even within the bounds of the law, to ensure they are burning safely. Keep your piles small, remove anything burnable from within 10 feet of your pile or burn barrel, and have water and a shovel or rake nearby.

Why 4 p.m. and why in the spring? During the spring, burning conditions become incredibly conducive to fire spread due to increased and erratic winds, drying of fuels (such as leaf litter) that are dormant this time of year, and lower humidity. As the days start to become warmer, radiant energy from the sun shining down on dry grass, dead leaves and other materials, further dries out existing fuels, making them a tinderbox. What may start out as a small fire can quickly escape and grow into a wildfire that engulfs hundreds, if not thousands, of acres. After 4 p.m., winds tend to decrease and the moisture in the air and fuels increases, lessening the potential for fires to escape.

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