Saturday, December 9, 2023

Dept. of Forestry Provides Guidance When Burning Storm Debris

The Virginia Dept. of Forestry provides guidance for burning storm debris (Photo by Jens Mahnke from Pexels)

STATEWIDE — The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) provides guidance regarding burning storm debris.

With the rash of winter storms that have impacted Virginia this season, the VDOF provides guidance regarding safe burning of yard debris and blown-down tree limbs.

It is important to note that February 15 through the end of April, it is illegal to burn debris prior to 4 p.m. if you’re within 300 feet of woods or dry grass leading to the woods.

Burn piles need to meet the following qualifications:

  • Located in an area that has been cleared down to bare soil. 
  • Less than 10 feet in diameter. 
  • At least 25 feet from any forested area (grasslands, brush or wildlands).
  • At least 25 feet from your home or other combustible structure.
  • At least 50 feet from any public roadway.

Here are some tips for responsible burning, according to the VDOF:

  • Start any burn as early as possible (after 4 p.m. during fire season), so the fire will have time to die down before evening sets in.
  • Citizens also need to ensure that they follow any local burning ordinances that are in effect in their area.
  • Have enough people on-site to keep the fire attended to and controlled at all times.
  • Keep handy a water hose, shovel, or other means to put out the fire.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving it. This means no smoke and no heat.
  • Call 911 for help immediately if your fire escapes. Several minutes may pass before a fire department or the Forestry Department can arrive on the scene.
  • Be aware that you might be held liable for the cost of suppression and damages to the property of others.

VDOF also wants to remind residents of the following “burning ‘don’ts'”:

  • Don’t burn household garbage (including paper products), treated lumber, plastics, rubber materials, tires, pesticides, paint and aerosol containers. Burning these items is illegal.
  • Don’t burn wet materials, as this creates excessive smoke.
  • Don’t burn on windy days.
  • Don’t leave a fire unattended, even for a moment. Escaped debris fires can spread quickly.

For more information on this and more, please visit the website for the VDOF.

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