CHARLOTTESVILLE – During this year’s fall fire season, which ran from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30, the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) responded to 156 wildfires that burned nearly 25,000 acres and damaged 13 structures.
Suppression efforts by DOF and the agency’s firefighting partners are credited with saving 224 homes and 268 other structures, with an estimated protected value of $46.8 million. For comparison, 89 wildfires burned 2,654 acres in the 2022 fall fire season.
“With 35 consecutive days of suppression efforts, this fall fire season provided tremendous challenges,” said State Forester Rob Farrell. “Our wildland firefighters once again answered the call to protect Virginia’s communities and natural resources. These successes would not be possible without our local, state and federal partners, as well as supporting resources from other states.”
Drought conditions combined with seasonal factors such as low humidity, high winds, and dry leaves and grass, allows wildfires to start easily, spread quickly and be difficult to contain. Although the fall fire season has ended, the threat of wildfire is always present, and many parts of Virginia are still in a drought.
“Until drought conditions lift, fire danger will remain elevated,” said DOF Director of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “The leading cause of wildfires this year was once again escaped debris burning. Many localities have implemented fire restrictions, so check with local officials before conducting any outdoor burning. Even if no fire restrictions are in place, we encourage those in drought areas to delay all outdoor burning until the drought is lifted.”
Follow these tips when burning debris:
Check with local officials before burning
Avoid burning if your locality is in a drought
Avoid burning on dry, windy days
Keep your burn pile small
Stay with your fire until it’s completely out (drown, stir, drown again, ensure it’s cool)
Have a rake or shovel and charged water hose on hand
Have a phone ready to call 911 if a fire escapes your control
Consider a “green” alternative to burning yard debris: compost your organic yard waste
Remain Safe this Holiday Season
Don’t let a careless mistake ruin the holidays for you, your neighbors and your community. DOF also reminds those with live Christmas trees to follow safe practices on placing and caring for your tree. Learn more at nfpa.org.
Virginia Department of Forestry