Open Burning Rules and Safety Tips

The ground may be soaked now, but outdoor burning still requires close attention and adherence to state and local regulations to maintain the safety and well being of our community and forests. In Virginia, most forest fires are the result of human actions, and can easily be prevented by using common sense, following fire safety rules, and obeying fire laws. The greatest number of fires occur in February, March, April and May. As we near the close of the period of highest danger, many people have questions as to what the restrictions are for outdoor burning. Currently there are no restrictions on outdoor burning in Clarke County. The “4 p.m. law”   that restricts open air burning before 4 o’clock in the afternoon runs from February 15 through April 30 is no longer in effect so there are no restrictions on outdoor fires at this time. However Clarke County Fire Chief Harold Rohde reminds residents that they still must contact Clarke County Dispatch at 540-955-1234 prior to burning.

A permit is required for town residents.   Chapter 6 section 6-1 of the town code addresses the issue of open burning.   The permit can be obtained at the town office or police department and requires that an officer inspect the site to check the location an material being burned.   It is also important to note that the town public works department does pick up yard waste which is recycled at the landfill.   They will pick up branches and tree trimmings that are bundled for disposal, which is the preferred method of removing the waste so that nuisance smoke is not generated.   The town also picks up leaves with the vaccuum in the fall.   For more info on the yard waste pick-up residents can call 955-1099

To reduce the risk of fire, follow these guidelines.

  • Clear a safety zone that is wide enough to prevent the escape of the fire.
  • Keep a supply of water and a rake or shovel readily accessible.
  • DO NOT leave a fire unattended (State Law year round).
  • If a fire does escape, call 911 immediately.
  • Burn when the wind is calm.
  • Obey forest fire laws and air pollution regulations.

Fire conditions are subject to change so make sure you contact the Clarke County Dispatch at 540-955-1234 prior to burning. For more information consult the Virginia Department of Forestry website at: http://www.dof.virginia.gov