Be smart about burning

Published 10:29 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

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The leading cause of forest fires in Virginia is carelessness, according to John Miller, director of fire and emergency response at the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Indeed, just as Miller stated in a recent press release we received from the VDOF, the vast majority of forest fires are started by human activity. Only a small percentage are from lightning, and, well, everything else that can start them is human activity.

Whether it’s an unattended fire, a carelessly discarded cigarette, a trailer chain dragging on the asphalt, malfunctioning construction equipment, or a single match — anything that burns, smokes or sparks can ignite the dry fuels that are so prevalent in the early spring.

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“Add a few days of dry, windy conditions, and an escaped wildfire can quickly turn into a raging blaze,” Miller stated.

The 4 p.m. burn law went into effect this Saturday. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day, so burning is only permitted from 4 p.m. to midnight, when winds typically die down, the temperature decreases and the humidity increases, all of which contribute to safer burning conditions.

The law applies to campfires, warming fires, brush piles, leaves, household trash, stumps, brush and more.

Just because it’s legal to burn, doesn’t mean it’s always wise. If it has not rained in several days, the winds are high, or you don’t have the tools and equipment to contain your fire, you should think about delaying your burning to another time.

In short, we urge you to be smart about burning this spring.