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Respect the fire

Friday was the first day of spring fire season, when the state’s 4 p.m. burn law took effect. This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day.

The rationale for the 4 p.m. burn law is that wind speeds tend to decrease after 4 p.m., and humidity levels typically increase. Those two factors reduce the chances that a fire will escape someone’s control.

If a fire does escape someone’s control during the spring wildfire season, that person could be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor. They could receive up to a $500 fine as well as being held financially liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as the damage caused to another’s property.

Virginia Department of Forestry Director of Emergency Response John Miller said in a press release that the state is “in good shape for the beginning of the fire season, thanks to the record-breaking rains last year and the rain and snow we have already received this year.”

That didn’t stop two brush fires from breaking out in Suffolk on Friday, the first day of the spring fire season. Winds, lower humidity and warming temperatures can change conditions very quickly. “One snowstorm or soaking rain can make people forget that the vegetation is dormant and dry this time of year and can become hazardous with only a few days of dry windy weather,” Miller stated in the press release.

Thankfully, no one was injured and no structures were threatened in Friday’s two brush fires. The cause of one was determined to be a carelessly discarded cigarette, while the other is still under investigation.

We urge all Suffolk citizens to help prevent unnecessary destruction this year. Respect the 4 p.m. burn law, dispose of smoking materials in the proper receptacles, and contact the Fire Marshal’s Office at 514-4550 or at fireprevbureau@suffolkva.us if you have any questions or know of any violations of the law or safety standards regarding fire.