Burn law in effect

Published 7:28 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

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The Suffolk Fire Marshal’s Office would like to remind citizens the Virginia Department of Forestry 4 p.m. Burn Law went into effect Feb. 15 and will last through April 30.

Open burning with a permit is allowed from 4 p.m. to midnight only. The Virginia Department of Forestry Burn Law also applies to recreational fires. This is an effective tool in the prevention of forest fires. Debris burning continues to be the leading cause of forest fires in Virginia.

This law prohibits open-air burning (any outdoor fire that is not covered and/or contained within non-flammable barriers) before 4 p.m. if the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass which could carry fire to the woods. Winds usually calm down and the relative humidity levels are on the increase after 4 p.m., both of which reduce the potential for a debris fire or any other open air fire to escape your control. Since forest fuels cure during the winter months, the danger of fire is higher in early spring than in summer, when the forest and grasses are green with new growth.

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This law does not apply to charcoal or gas-fired grills. Users are still encouraged to take proper care and precaution by clearing all flammable material from around the grill, and stay with it until it is completely extinguished or turned off.

If burning operations are greater than 300 feet from the woods or flammable grass/vegetation that would allow the fire to spread to the woods, the 4 p.m. Burn Law does not apply.

In addition to the criminal violations, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.

The 4 p.m. Burn Law is different from the burning bans, which are invoked only during periods of extreme fire danger. The “Summer Burn Ban” will be in effect May 1 through Sept. 30.

For more information on the Virginia Department of Forestry 4 p.m. Burn Law or the “Summer Burn Ban,” contact the Suffolk Fire Marshal’s Office at 757-514-4540, or via email at fireprevbureau@suffolkva.us.