Virginia’s burn law becomes effective at 4 p.m. Feb. 15. This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day between Feb. 15 and April 30 if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodland, brush or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
The law began in the 1940s to reduce the number of wildfires that occur each spring.
“The 4 p.m. burn law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires,” said John Miller, director of fire and emergency response at the Virginia Department of Forestry. “In late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become ‘forest fuel’ that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia.”
Burning is allowed between 4 p.m. and midnight as long as the fire is not left unattended and a water source is available. The 4 p.m. time frame is based on environmental factors — after 4 p.m., winds are likely to be calmer, the temperature decreases and the humidity increases, all of which contribute to safer burning conditions.
The burn law does not apply to fires in containers approved by a fire official.
A violation of the law is a class 3 misdemeanor, which can include a fine of up to $500.
No open air burning is allowed in the Town of Rocky Mount at any time per section 34-3 of the town code.