Spring Fire Season Update

Forest Fire Season Update

Here we are at the tail end of the spring forest fire season and local foresters tell me for the most part it has been a tame year. While there were a fair number of small brush fires in March and April, overall foresters have benefited from the wet winter and not spent the long hours/days in the woods fighting fires that dry springs produce.

On Tuesday, a fire in Central Kanawha County WV smoked up the air in Charleston for a while. This came courtesy of a dry start to May and no doubt a careless match or perhaps a lazy landowner clearing brush improperly. But this fire was an exception as the winds have not been strong this week nor has the sun shone too hotly.

The number of fires tails off dramatically in May when compared to March and April for 2 reasons. Number one, the forests now have a thick and thriving canopy of green leaves. These leaves act to block the rays of hot, dry May sun from penetrating to the forest bed. That keeps conditions cooler and moister than they were a month or 2 ago.

Secondly, May is one of the wettest months of the year, on average, with a normal May managing more than 4 inches of rain water. Those rains are quickly absorbed by the root systems of the trees and soil which helps to offset the drying May sun’s capabilities.

Still, we are dry the first 6 days of May, so small fires are certainly possible before late week rains arrive. So here are the laws for burning in spring.

The spring fire season officially has ended in Kentucky (April 30), so there are no temporal restrictions to burning until next fall.

In Ohio and West Virginia, the spring fire season runs thru May. If you must burn, the laws are different in these 2 states. In the Buckeye State, you may burn from 6PM to 6AM and in West Virginia from 4PM to 7AM. You may only burn vegetation like leaves, tree branches and grass. TRASH MAY NEVER BE BURNED LEGALLY ANYWHERE!

Remember, stay with your fire until it is completely out and use a 10 foot safety strip cleared to mineral soil around your fire.

Finally, since local ordinances can supersede state law, check with your local fire department before burning.

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