TAYLOR COUNTY—Local fire departments have already been called to the scene of numerous brushfires throughout the county this month, making it the perfect time for local county and state officials to offer some reminders when it comes to safe burning practices.
The annual Spring Forest Fire Season started March 1 and will continue through May 31, and the season marks the return of burning restrictions.
During the season, residents are prohibited from burning fires outdoors between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. This includes any grass, grain, stubble, slash, debris or other flammable materials.
While many types of fires are prohibited, certain burns are still permitted including small fires set in order to prepare food and those with a purpose of providing light and warmth.
However, such fires will need to be attended, and all vegetation must be removed around the fire at a distance of ten feet, as set forth in West Virginia State Code §20-3-5.
All other fires are required to be extinguished completely before 7:00 a.m.
According to the West Virginia Division of Forestry, more than 99 percent of all wildfires in West Virginia are caused by people, directly or indirectly. Burning debris accounts for 35 percent of all wildfires during the past ten years.
To help curb those statistics, officials are offering some tips when it comes to burning, along with outlining rules and regulations for the fire season.
“During Spring Fire Season, residents need to be especially careful when burning items, and there are precautions they can take to ensure their controlled burn doesn’t become uncontrolled,” Grafton Fire Chief Wayne Beall voiced.
He shared that small steps like checking the weather forecast before burning can help residents keep flames contained.
“Even though the roots of grasses and other weeds might not ignite, the part above ground may very well burn, which could lead to the spread of fires,” Beall explained.
One of the most important steps residents can take is to never leave their fires unattended, and to completely extinguish their burns.
The West Virginia Division of Forestry also notes that all fires must have a ring or safety strip. The safety strip itself must be cleared of burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide.
In addition, only vegetative materials such as leaves brush and yard clippings are permitted to be burnt.
Commercial enterprises such as manufacturing must purchase a permit before burning during prohibited periods. Permits are issued by local West Virginia Division of Forestry offices and are required for each commercial burning site.
In addition, some municipalities require residents to obtain burning permits before they can carry out open burns within those limits.
According to Beall, individuals residing within the city limits of Grafton will need to obtain a burning permit to carry out their open burns. Permits are free for residents and may be obtained at the Grafton Fire Department.
For more information about local burning permits, please contact the Grafton Fire Department by phone at 304-265-1866.
Those failing to adhere to the regulations set forth by the West Virginia Division of Forestry may be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. Those individuals may also be subject to a civil penalty of $200.
For a complete list of regulations, please visit wvforestry.com.
“We all need to do our part to ensure that the people and property of Taylor County remain as safe as possible from fires,” imparted Beall. “The bottom line is, just burn responsibly.”