Yep, Spring Wildfire Season is around the corner

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 11:23 PM EST
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(WHSV) - It’s starting to feel like spring outside and right around the corner is spring wildfire season which begins Wednesday, February 15th.

John Miller, from the Virginia Department of Forestry, said we are moving into the time of year when weather favors fires spreading. Warm, dry, and windy weather help contribute to this.

Another factor Miller said in the increased risk for fires is available fuel for the fire to burn. The ground lacks vegetation when it starts getting warm out, and the risk goes down once the grasses and fresh vegetation have grown by the end of April.

He also said wildfires are happening more than you think. Miller said the Eastern U.S. actually sees more fires than the Western U.S. but at a far lower magnitude and intensity.

“We average about four to five hundred fires in the spring in a year in Virginia which burn about 5,000 acres, so it’s probably more of a problem than what most people realize,” said Miller.

He added that debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, debris burning causes 37% of wildfires in Virginia. The next common causes include arson at 18%, miscellaneous cases at 15%, and smoking and misusing equipment at 8%.

37% of wildfires are caused by burning debris.
37% of wildfires are caused by burning debris.(VDOF)

However, some wildfires are caused when one fails to put fires completely out like campfires.

“Campfire not fully suppressed before leaving for the evening can reignite even days later if it isn’t checked,” said Chad Briggs from the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Briggs said one way you can check if the fire is completely put out is to place your hand over the area where the fire was. If you don’t feel any heat, Briggs said you should be good to go.

Some other tips include placing enough water on your burn pile and to avoid placing ashes near any wood deck or your home.

The WHSV First Alert Storm Team will let you know when conditions are favorable for wildfires. The spring wildfire season ends on April 30th.

During the spring wildfire season, no burning is allowed until after 4 pm in the state of Virginia if the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass.

In West Virginia, spring wildfire season begins on March 1st and ends on May 31st.