Virginia’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Saturday. This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day between Saturday and April 30 if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brush or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

“The 4 p.m. Burning Law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires,” said John Miller, director of fire and emergency response at the Virginia Department of Forestry, in a news release. “In late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become ‘forest fuel’ that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”

The 4 p.m. time frame is based on environmental factors; after 4 p.m., the winds are likely to be calmer, the temperature decreases and the humidity increases, all of which contribute to safer burning conditions.

Regardless of the time of day, it’s critical to exercise sound judgment when burning at any time of year, according to VDOF.

“Even if it is legal to burn, it might not be wise to do so,” the release said. “This is especially true if it has not rained in several days, the winds are high or if you don’t have the tools and equipment to contain or control your fire.”

Miller added the leading cause of fires in Virginia is carelessness.

“An unattended fire, a trailer chain dragging on the asphalt or a single match can ignite the dry fuels that are so prevalent in the early spring,” Miller said. “Add a few days of dry, windy conditions and an escaped wildfire can quickly turn into a raging blaze.”

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and your property, how to become “firewise” or to get a complete copy of the Forest Fire Laws, contact your local VDOF office or visit http://dof.virginia.gov/laws/index.htm#FireLaws.

— Justin Faulconer

Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.

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