Statewide burn law to go in effect

Statewide burn law to go in effect

14 February 2012

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USA — A statewide law aimed at preventing wildfires starts Wednesday, limiting when residents can have an open fire outdoors.

Virginia’s annual burn law will be in effect until April 30.  Under the law, all open burning, including campfires, are only allowed between 4 p.m. and midnight daily if the fire is in, or within, 300 feet of wooded areas, brush, or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials, according to Prince William fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander.

Dry grounds, coupled with potentially high winds and a low relative humidity during the daytime hours, could pose a substantial wildfire hazard, officials said.

Hylander sourced the 4 p.m. start time of the law to a typically-increasing humidity and calmer winds during that time.

There are two types of approved burning in Prince William County—controlled burning and bonfires.  Both require a county permit.

Controlled burning includes destruction and reduction of land-clearing waste in an open-air environment through a burning process that sometimes uses an air curtain destructor or a pit incinerator, among other devices, according to the Prince William County website.

Bonfires, approved with the permit, must be smaller than 5 foot wide, 5 foot long and 5 foot tall in dimension and it has to burn less than three hours to be in compliance with county code, the website said.

The 4 p.m. burn law, which was established in the 1940’s, is in effect for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website.

The state fine for violating the 4 p.m. law is a class three misdemeanor and can it be as high as $500, the forestry website said.


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