Violation of the 4 p.m. law is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.
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The law goes into effect on February 15th each year and runs through April 30th.
The 4 p.m. Law was adopted during the 1940s to reduce the number of wildfires that occurred each spring. During this time of the year, Virginia traditionally has an increased number of fires. During the winter months, winds are usually elevated, the relative humidity is lower and the fuels on the forest floor are extremely dry, having "cured" without having the tree leaves to shade them.
After 4 p.m., winds usually calm down and the relative humidity levels are on the increase, both of which reduce the potential for a debris fire or any outdoor open-air fire to escape your control.
Debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires, closely followed by intentionally set or "arson" fires.
Virginia has records which date back to 1925, and our 30 year average is 1,449 fires for 8,338 acres per year. 1941 saw the most fires with 3,697, and 1930 had the most acreage burned at 333,023 acres.
No, campfires are considered open-air fires. A pit fire or campfire may be approved if it meets all of the following conditions: Fire is below ground level, continuously monitored, completely enclosed with cinder blocks, and a ¼ or smaller metal screen is placed over the enclosure. Extra precautions should be taken to clear a 20-foot circle of all flammable materials and have water and a shovel available.
Yes. Although you may have taken all proper precautions and obtained any locally required permits, whoever started the fire is responsible should the fire escape.
Yes, however you must take proper care and precaution by clearing all flammable material from around it and you must stay with it until it is completely extinguished or turned off.
No, however, those burning operations must also have an operational fire permit from the Fire Prevention Office prior to conducting burning operations at any time.