Burn with care

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2020

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Are you familiar with the 4 p.m. burn law in Virginia? If not, now’s the time to know because it went into effect on Saturday, and continues to Thursday, April 30. That regulation, according to the state’s Department of Forestry website, prohibits before 4 p.m. the open air burning of wood, leaves and debris if the fire is within 300 feet of dry grass or woods.

The reasoning for the timing is two-fold. First, wind activity is higher in winter through early spring. Second, the relative humidity of the time is considerably lower, which makes trees and leaves ideally dry for catching fire and the flames spreading. After 4 p.m., though, the winds are generally calmer and the humidity higher, which allows for the aforementioned controlled burning be it trash or even campfires.

But even then, take care. Don’t just throw a match on a pile of leaves or garbage and think that’s that until the flames seem to die down. Further, dispose of cigarettes or cigars and any matches by completely tamping them out — use water or sand. Don’t assume that tossing them on the ground automatically snuffs out a potentially hazardous spark.

Also, if there’s been a dry spell, hold off any burning until rain or snow can saturate the environment.

To learn more about the laws regarding burning and other precautions, visit www.dof.virginia.gov.

As Smokey Bear must remind us time and time again, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”