Experts offer tips as wildfire season begins in Virginia

VIRGINIA — Due to lingering lack of rain, minimal snowfall and growth in urban interface areas, there is expected increased threat of wildfires for some areas of Virginia.forestry1

More than 60 percent of Virginia’s annual average of 1,000 wildfires occur in the spring – with March and April historically being the most active months.

The Commonwealth’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect February 15 to help reduce the number of wildfires this time of year. The law prohibits open burning between the hours of midnight and 4 p.m. each day.  Burning is permitted between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight, but officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) caution people that, even though burning is allowed from 4 p.m. to midnight, they not burn if the weather conditions are such that a fire will likely start. This law remains in effect each year until April 30.

“The 4 p.m. Burning Law is one of the most important tools we have in the prevention of wildfires in Virginia,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of fire and emergency response.  “The number one cause of wildfires in the Commonwealth is people burning yard debris and/or trash, and the 4 p.m. law goes a long way toward reducing the risk associated with wildfires each year.”, says Virginia Department of Forestry.

VDOF has released tips to help Virginians prepare their properties for the spring wildfire season:

  • Remove all branches that touch the house, garage, shed, etc.;
  • Clear all brush (tall grass, leaves, branches, weeds, etc.) within 30 feet of the home and other structures;
  • Keep gutters clear of debris;
  • Remove combustibles (wood, propane tanks, gas grills, motor homes, boats, ATVs and cars) from under or near structures;
  • Trim branches up to 10 feet from the base of the tree and remove any vines from the trees;Use gravel or chunky bark for mulch;
  • Install spark arrestors on chimneys;
  • Keep flammable plants away from your home;
  • Maintain your driveway so that the clearance is at least 12 feet wide and 12 feet high, and
  • Use fire-resistant materials for your roof, deck and siding projects.