Although WV Magistrate Ron Bane only heard two WV burning law cases in the last year, he wants the public to be aware of the law so as to not potentially run afoul of it.
When asked about it Bane said, “It’s a commonsense law to limit burning at times when there’s a lot of debris on the ground and wind that can carry a fire.”
In West Virginia, Fall Forest Fire Season – October 1 to December 31 – coincides with restrictions on burning according to WV Code §20-3-5. In a heavily wooded, rural state largely comprised of volunteer fire departments, it makes sense that the WV law says that no open burning may be conducted between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., unless a burning permit is obtained from the WV Division of Forestry and the proper permit fees are paid.
This enables awareness among local emergency management professionals. It also ensures that times when volunteers, who might otherwise be working during normal business hours, will be available to respond should a fire get out of hand due to wind or accidental negligence.
WV Burning laws in brief:
- No burning from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- Fire must be attended at all times.
- Area must be cleared to a mineral soil for a minimum distance of 10-ft. around what is being burned
- If your fire escapes, you are liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any damage the fire may cause to others.
Considerations & Tips When Burning
The WV Division of Forestry, an agency that protects nearly 12 million acres of forestland across our state suggests the following when preparing to burn materials by fire:
- If you live within a local city, contact municipal offices to check and confirm other possible burning ordinances.
- Never burn on dry, windy days.
- Put debris in several small piles instead of one large one.
- Have water and tools on hand to extinguish anything that may escape the burn area.
- Be aware of neighbors and don’t burn debris that makes a lot of smoke at times when smoke does not rise. If the smoke spreads out near the ground instead of rising put out the fire and burn another time.
- Call 911 immediately if a fire does escape.
Willfully setting fires is a felony and punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.
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The flyer goes into more even more detail about WV burning laws.