Newswise — Recent brush and forest fires in various parts of West Virginia are evidence that decreased humidity in the fall and winter seasons can cause dry leaves, grasses and other forest floor debris to become more flammable, creating a higher risk of unwanted fires.

West Virginia University Extension Service experts Mark Lambert and Dave McGill have provided some considerations for outdoor burning this time of year so everyone can do their part to prevent serious brush and forest fires throughout the state. 


“The statewide fall fire season runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. There’s also a spring fire season from March 1 to May 31. During these fire seasons, outdoor burning is prohibited from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. across West Virginia.”

“If you’re burning outdoors within the permitted times, it’s important to remember that only vegetative materials, such as leaves, brush and yard clippings are permitted to be burned. You should never burn outdoors on windy days. The fire could easily spread very fast and get out of control.”

“Individuals can face fines up to $1,000 for violating West Virginia’s burning laws and the fire season guidelines. If your fire gets out of control, you also could be charged with the expenses of extinguishing the fire.” – Mark Lambert, assistant professor and director, WVU Fire Service Extension

“Landowners should be aware of and follow the West Virginia Division of Forestry’s fire burning guidelines year-round, but we especially need to be cognizant of the restrictions during the burning seasons like we’re in right now. The full list of guidelines as well as additional information can be found on the Division of Forestry’s website at”

“If burning outdoors during the legal hours, you need to make appropriate plans to have fires fully extinguished by 7 a.m. Dry litter, like leaves, grasses and clippings, can be volatile, and fire conditions can change quickly, so fires should never be left unattended. It’s always a good idea to clear a 10-foot safety strip around the area where you’ll be burning to remove any flammable material. Be vigilant and remain aware of any burning items that are creating a lot of sparks or floating embers.”

“It’s important to follow burning season guidelines and always use caution when dealing with fires, but it’s also important to understand that prescribed fires can be a useful tool to promote forest regeneration and create wildlife habitat. A controlled, prescribed burn was even used recently at the WVU Research Forest for these exact reasons. These prescribed burns should only be carried out with proper permits and adequate supervision.” – Dave McGill, professor and forestry resources specialist, WVU Extension