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Err on the side of caution for fire season

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - October and November are fire season months for both Ohio and West Virginia. This means, in Ohio, outdoor burning is prohibited from 6 AM to 6 PM and, in West Virginia, it’s banned from 7 AM to 5 PM.

We spoke to a West Virginia regional forester to understand the importance of following these guidelines.

Due to dry conditions, from dry leaves on the ground to lower humidity levels, fires can spread more easily during this time of year. West Virginia Division of Forestry’s Vern Stephens said the time of day outdoor burning is banned was chosen due to how low humidity levels get and when winds are more prevalent.

If you decide to start fires during legal hours, there are still precautions you need to take. For instance, fires must be attended at all times, open fires must be 50 feet away from structures, and all fires must be contained within a 10 foot wide area set by safety strips. Even then, you need to be careful.

Stephens said, “We see a lot of our fires start out - they thought they had their fire out the night before and next morning the things picks up and the humidity’s dropped and there was one ember in there that was covered and the winds blow it and, the next thing you know, the hill side’s on fire…,”

Stephens said penalties for burning during illegal hours or for a fire getting out of control due to a lack of precautions can reach over $400. That includes a citation, a civil penalty, and court costs.

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