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Officials Warn of Spring Wildfire Season, Open Air Burning Requirements

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Wildfire via Samantha Sturm Cooper Wildfire via Samantha Sturm Cooper

Release from Rockingham County Department of Fire & Rescue and City of Harrisonburg Fire Department:

The winter months are coming to a close and warmer weather is just around the corner. With that in mind, Rockingham County Department of Fire and Rescue & The City of Harrisonburg Fire Department, in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Forestry, would like to remind all county residents that the 75 day spring wildfire season will begin on Wednesday, February 15, and continue through Sunday, April 30. During this time frame, forest fuels -such as leaves, grass and tree limbs - are dry and highly flammable.

Dry fuels combined with low humidity and high winds can be highly attributable to ground cover and forest fires.

A “Burn Law” (which allows burning only between 4 p.m. and midnight) will be in effect throughout the spring wildfire season. The “Burn Law” is an initiative which promotes safer burning practices in an effort to prevent unwanted fire spread and damaging wildfires. These fires are not only devastating to property owners but can also be detrimental to the infrastructure of the commonwealth of Virginia and Rockingham County. For this reason the Virginia Department of Forestry has placed the following burn laws in effect:

No burning until after 4:00 p.m. February 15 through April 30 of each year, if the fire is in or within 300 feet of woodland, brushland, or a field containing dry grass or other flammable material.

  • Fire shall not be left unattended if within 150 feet of woodland or dry fuel sources
  • No new fires set or fuel added after midnight.
  • The law provides for a penalty of up to $500, plus payment of court costs and fire suppression costs if the fire escapes to surrounding areas.

In Rockingham County, it is mandatory to obtain an open air burning permit from the Department of Fire and Rescue before burning any type of brush pile, landscape or garden waste, or similar debris.

The Rockingham County Fire Prevention Code prohibits the burning of household trash, waste, construction debris, rubber, tires, asphalt shingles, plastic or other similar items. Violations of the Rockingham County Fire Prevention Code may result in being charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor which could entail a fine of up to $2,500 or 1 year in jail. These burn permits can be obtained by contacting the Department of Fire and Rescue at 540-564-8297, Monday-Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

After receiving your burn permit you must call the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center at 540-434-4436 at least 10 minutes prior to lighting your fire. There is no fee charged for the permit and it is valid for 6 months from the date obtained.

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