Brush Fire Season: Prevention and Safety Tips

MT. LOOKOUT, WV (WOAY) – March 1 marks the beginning of brush fire season which runs until May 31. During this time of year conditions become drier due to a large area of high pressure which sits over the east coast and reduces the amount of rain seen across the mountain state. Because of this, you can only burn at certain times of the day.

“You cannot burn between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” said Assistant Fire Chief of the Wilderness Volunteer Fire Department Noah Allen. “After 5 p.m. you are allowed to burn if you need to, you’re allowed to burn leaves, rubbish, and stuff like that. If you do burn make sure that you monitor the fire at all times and make sure it’s fully extinguished before you leave.”

The reason for the burn hours to be set during the night is because the temperatures are cooler which pushes the temperatures closer to the dew point temperature, thus bringing the air closer to its saturation point. This allows the air to condense and deposit some of its moisture. Additionally, the cooler temperatures also work to break up the convective cycles that occur during the day which creates lesser wind speeds overnight.

However, regardless of the conditions you should always clear ample space around your burn site.

“We recommend you clear at least ten feet surrounding your burn circle,” Allen said. “Because if you get a high wind if it blows leaves around, right now it’s very dry out, if the wind blows any leaves that are on fire it will definitely catch anything else that’s flammable on fire around your burn circle.”

Should your controlled burn get out of hand you should immediately call the fire department. You can try to extinguish the fire after you call the fire department using a garden hose or by raking in front of the fire, but keep your distance as you can be burned.

“We had an illegal burn last week where someone was actually burned pretty severely on one of their legs,” said Allen. “The fire got out of control and they tried to put it out, but he ended up receiving burns to his legs. You just have to be really careful if you have a fire.”

Fire officials ask people not to throw cigarette butts out of vehicles as they can also cause brush fires.

Some towns also require you to get burn permits prior to burning even during the allotted hours. So be sure to check with your city’s ordinances beforehand. Also check the StormWatch forecast ahead of time to ensure the conditions are favorable for a safe burn.

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