A burn ban will remain in effect through April 30, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry.
No burning is allowed until after 4 p.m., if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodland, brushland or field containing dry grass or other flammable material. Additionally, fires must not be left unattended if they are within 150 feet of woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass, according to state law.
No new fires may be set or have fuel added after midnight, including campfires, warming fires, brush piles, leaves, household trash, stumps, fields of broomstraw and brush or anything capable of spreading fire.
Violators may be fined up to $500, and also be required to pay court costs and/or fire suppression costs, according to .state law.
The 4 p.m. law was adopted during the 1940s to reduce the number of wildfires which occurred each spring. During this time of the year, Virginia traditionally has an increased number of fires.
In the winter months, winds are usually elevated, the relative humidity is lower and the fuels on the forest floor are extremely dry, having “cured” without having the tree leaves to shade them.
Debris burning is the Number One cause of wildfires, closely followed by intentionally set or arson fires.
Dating to 1925, the 30 year average number of fires is 1,449, and a reported 8,338 acres per year. According to those records, the highest number of forest fires was 3,697 in 1941, while 1930 had the most acreage burned 33, with 3,023 acres.
For more information, contact your local fire department or the Virginia Department of Forestry office.