Virginia's spring fire season runs from February 15 through April 30 this year, which means that as of Wednesday, Virginians are being asked to curb fires before 4 p.m., or else.
if you start a fire before 4 p.m. during spring fire season, it's considered a class-3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. It also makes the fire starter financially liable for the cost of suppression as well as resulting damages.
We've seen this in the past. Someone places their ashes, that they presume are cold, outdoors. A day later the ashes set fire to the homeowner's yard, then spreads to the mountainside. The homeowner is now responsible for manpower, machinery and damage to property as a result of that fire.
Human activity causes over 90% of the forest firest in Virginia. Last year, the Commonwealth had over 1,000 fires to fight.
The 4pm burn restrictions have been in place for over 70 years. 4pm is the magic time, because typically the relative humidity increases in the evening, and the winds begins to relax. This offers better burning conditions.
The Virginia Department of Forestry offers these additional burning tips:
- Don't burn even after 4 p.m. if the wind speed is greater than 20mph or humidity is below 30%
- Burn smaller piles instead of one large one
- Clear around the burn site down to the bare dirt before starting
- Don't add any extra fuel to the burn after midnight
- Keep a water hose and shovel with you while burning
- Dial 9-1-1 immediately if a fire gets out of control