Spring wildfire season ends in Virginia

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Five days of much- needed rain helped bring about an early end to spring wildfire season in Virginia, according to officials at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). Since Jan. 1 the VDOF has suppressed 411 wildfires that burned a total of 6,273 acres.

“We had some large fires during the month of April,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of fire and emergency response. “The largest fire this year was the Goshen Pass wildfire that burned more than 3,000 acres and took nearly 10 days to extinguish.”

While battling the 411 wildfires, VDOF firefighters protected 2,575 homes and other structures that were at risk, according to a press release. “People burning yard debris and trash caused the largest percentage of these wildfires, and the second leading cause was arson.”

“Woods arson is a serious crime that puts people’s lives in danger and their property at great risk,” said Miller. “We have offered a reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for starting the Goshen Pass wildfire. And our investigators are working closely with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the State Police and the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office to make an arrest. If you have information to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us or one of these cooperating agencies.”

“Spring wildfire season runs from Feb. 15 to April 30 each year and coincides with the 4 p.m. Burn Law, which prohibits outdoor burning between midnight and 4 p.m. each day,” according to the release. “As of midnight Sunday, the 4 p.m. Burn Law is no longer in effect. …”

“Just because you are allowed to burn at any time of the day, doesn’t mean that you should,” Miller said. “If we’ve had several hot, sunny days with low humidity and the winds are blowing at more than 10 miles an hour, we strongly recommend that you delay burning until the weather conditions improve.”

Some localities prohibit outdoor burning at other times of the year.

Miller suggests residents with questions check with their area fire departments before igniting an outdoor burn.