CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A few days of slow rain helped West Virginia’s position considerably early this week.
West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Barry Cook said while the rain certainly isn’t enough to get water tables caught up, it has been enough to reduce the danger of forest fires to the point an emergency burning ban was lifted Wednesday by Gov. Jim Justice.
“We actually wound up getting about an extra day of rain they hadn’t foretasted,” Cook said. “Temporarily it’s got the ground wet enough that it has reduced that extreme hazard anyway.”
Since the rainfall, Cook said no new forest fires had been reported in West Virginia. Prior to the rain, the state had seen more than 160 fires which scorched thousands of acres across the state.
Even with the ban removed, there are still dangers and there are still rules. The annual fall forest fire season began on October 1st. It restricts all open burning to the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“We still encourage everybody to be extremely careful and abide by the regular fire season laws,” said Cook.
Beyond the hourly restrictions, those laws require a 10 foot ring around the fire down to barren soil. Cook recommended keeping any debris piles to be burned small and having a water source nearby as a precaution. Without continued rain, winds and low humidity could quickly return the state to conditions which prompted the burning ban to begin with.