Burn ban begins Sunday

Published 11:12 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

After a particularly difficult spring fire season across the state, the city of Suffolk is reminding its citizens that there is no open air burning allowed in the city from May 1 to Sept. 30.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality prohibits burning to improve the city’s air quality and reduce the number of responses for brush and wildfires.

The open burn ban includes all types of burning, from burning in a barrel to commercial land clearing operations. Failure to comply with the ban can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail, as well as a bill for extinguishing the fire.

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In the first four months of this year, the Virginia Department of Forestry responded to 609 fires that burned 11,285 acres. Fifteen homes were damaged by the fires, and at least 848 homes and 495 other structures were threatened but protected by firefighters.

Those figures represented a 42-percent increase in the number of fires and a whopping 241-percent increase in the number of acres burned compared to last year.

Forestry department officials noted that conditions are not ideal and the threat from wildfires is far from over.

Debris-burning remains the No. 1 cause of wildfires in Virginia.

For more information on wildfires, call the Suffolk Fire Prevention Bureau at 514-4540 or visit www.dof.virginia.gov or www.firewisevirginia.org.