CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The unseasonably record high temperatures and little rainfall this winter has West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Randy Dye concerned about the spring forest fire season.

“You combine all those factors and it makes for a potentially bad, hazardous fire season,” Dye told MetroNews.

The spring season began last week and will run through May 31.

Before last week’s storm, the state saw very little rain and snow.

“Some parts of the state haven’t had any snow at all; therefore, the leaves are drying and fluffy,” Dye said. “That makes for prime fire conditions.”

The law bans outdoor burning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Burning is allowed between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. for vegetation such as brush, leaves and yard clippings. All fires must be extinguished by 7 a.m.

Debris burning is allowed between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., but Dye said “people need to use common sense.” That’s because debris burning, he said, has been the biggest cause of wild fires this year.

“Eighty-three percent of the wildfires statewide were caused by debris burning. We’ve burned 600 acres by debris burning,” he said.

Dye recommends residents should avoid burning on windy days.

According to the state Division of Forestry, residents must clear at least a 10-foot area around the fire, creating a safety ring and make sure the area is free of all flammable material. A person must be present to supervise a burning fire. No fire may be left unattended until it is completely extinguished.

For commercial burning permits, contact the state Division of Forestry. Those permits are not issued for burning yard waste, including grass clippings, leaves, twigs and branches.

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