CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — Effective immediately on April 17, 2023, to reduce the risk of wildfires due to drought, Gov. Jim Justice has issued a ruling that bans all outdoor burning throughout West Virginia.
Until the weather improves, the ban is necessary, since dry and windy weather conditions are to be expected in the upcoming days. The ban will stay until the Governor rescinds the order by further proclamation.
The National Weather Service in Charleston issued a Special Weather Statement for High Fire Danger Threat.
This decree makes it illegal for any person in the state to engage in outdoor burning, which includes, fires built for camping, the burning of debris, or warming.
The following items are excluded from the ban:
- Fires for the purpose of chemical production, where fire is essential to operation.
- Fires for commercial land-clearing, such as mining, highway construction, and development: provided that a permit is obtained from the Division of Forestry prior to burning.
- Training fires conducted under the direct control and supervision of qualified instructors at a training facility operated by a fire department or government entity: provided that a permit for such training fires is obtained from the Division of Forestry prior to burning.
- Fires for outdoor cooking conducted for fund-raising events and charitable organizations: provided that a water source capable of extinguishing the fire must be present and a permit is obtained from the Division of Forestry prior to the operation.
- Liquid fueled gas grills, lanterns or liquid-fueled gas fire stoves.
The Governor has instructed the Division of Forestry to have a forest fire readiness plan and to enforce the ban on burning as which is outlined in W.Va. Code §20-1-1, et seq.
“This year, we have experienced a significant period of low humidity and below average rainfall. Since January 1, we have experienced 654 different fires in the state, and a current total of 4,121 acres burned. This ban helps ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the public, our forests, and private property from the damage that can occur from a forest fire,” said Acting West Virginia Division of Forestry Director and State Forester Tony Evans.
The ruling orders the Division of Forestry and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to provide ongoing information to the Governor and the public regarding forest conditions and elements.
Additionally, this ruling orders the Division of Natural Resources, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Police to cooperate together in the enforcement of this ban.