Monday, September 25, 2023

Virginia’s 4 p.m. Burn Law Now in Effect Until April 30

The Virginia Department of Forestry’s 4 p.m. Burn Law is in effect until April 30. (Photo by Jens Mahnke from Pexels)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — The Virginia Department of Forestry’s 4 p.m. Burning Law has gone into effect until April 30.

The law, which takes effect this time each year, bans open-air burning prior to 4 p.m. This is for open-air fire that is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass which could carry fire to the woods.

Burning is permitted between 4 p.m. and midnight, as long as the burner takes proper precautions and attends the fire at all times.

The 4 p.m. Burning Law was adopted during the 1940s to reduce the number of wildfires which occurred in the spring when Virginia has traditionally seen an increased number of fires.

The law applies to open-air burning, meaning any outdoor fire that is not covered or contained within non-flammable barriers.

Virginia localities with a burn ban include those within the Historic Triangle.

“This is often the time of year when daytime wind conditions are increased, daytime relative humidity is less and there are more dry fuels in wooded areas, all of which can contribute to fire spread,” York County Fire and Life Safety Chief/Director Stephen P. Kopczynski said. “After 4 p.m. the humidity tends to increase and winds tend to subside thus reducing the chance of spread.”

Despite the 4 p.m. restriction lift, Kopczynski said that the York County Department of Fire and Life Safety discourages any open burning during this time of the year, even after 4 p.m.

However, he said that people who decide to burn after 4 p.m. “must take satisfactory measures to prevent fire spread and should always follow the state law and locality specific burning laws/regulations.”   

There are a few exemptions to the law, including charcoal or gas-fired barbeque grills. Also, if the fire is more than 300 feet from the woods or flammable grass that would allow the fire to spread to the woods, the 4 p.m. Burning Law does not apply.

Violation of the 4 p.m. Burning Law is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500.

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