CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  The month of March means the return of burning restrictions.   As of Friday, emergency officials in Morgan County said they had already gotten “several” calls regarding controlled burns in the county.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry says outdoor burning hours are now in place from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., which is according to State Code Chapter 20-3-5.

“Our fire laws protect one of West Virginia’s most valuable resources: our forests,” State Forester Jeremy Jones said. “We urge everyone who decides to burn anything outside to be completely familiar with the guidelines available on our website. During the spring months it doesn’t take long for our fuels to dry out and fires to escape easily.”

Jones said they have responded to nearly 100 fires already this year.

“Since January 1, we have responded to 95 fires that have burned approximately 389.1 acres,” said Jones.

The West Virginia Division of Forestry lists the following regulations when it comes to outdoor burning:

  • All fires must have a safety strip
  • The safety strip itself must be cleared of burnable material and be at least 10 feet wide
  • Fire must be attended until completely extinguished
  • Only vegetative materials such as leaves, brush and yard clippings are permitted to be burnt
  • Spark-throwing machinery such as power shovels or sawmills operating on land subject to fire must contain an adequate spark arrestor
  • Inflammable waste disposal areas must annually remove all grass, brush, debris, and other inflammable material adjacent to disposal areas to provide adequate protection, preventing the escape of fire to adjacent lands

A permit is required for any commercial burning during prohibited periods. Permits are issued by local WVDOF offices.

Anyone who causes a fire on any grass or forest land would have to reimburse the state for costs to suppress the fire. Forest fires caused by negligence can result in a fine that ranges from $100 to $1,000 with an additional civil penalty of $200.