Due to scarce water supplies and the ongoing emergency response efforts related to the recent storms, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin authorized a burning ban July 6 and continuing throughout the state of emergency.
"West Virginians across the state continue to clean up yards, homes, and communities," said Gov. Tomblin. "With our emergency personnel working hard to provide recovery assistance, along with the unusually dry conditions, we must take extra precautions to help prevent accidental fires."
The governor's proclamation authorizes the West Virginia Division of Forestry and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to issue directives regarding the scope of the burning ban.
"State resources are stretched to the limit as emergency personnel work to assist residents with repair and cleanup from the storm," said State Forester Randy Dye. "People are tired, water supplies, are down and some roads are still not accessible. As a result, the Division of Forestry is concerned that outdoor burning at this time could create a hazard."
"We are also working to help prevent any unauthorized burning in wildlife management areas," said Director Frank Jezioro, DNR.
Through their carelessness, people cause the majority of forest fires in West Virginia. In the fall of 2011, 22 percent of all forest fires started from fires built to burn debris. The leading cause was incendiary or arson-related and accounted for 31 percent of all the fires in West Virginia. Equipment use rounded out the top three causes with 21 percent. The other 26 percent of fires are attributed to children, lightning, or miscellaneous causes or are still under investigation.
The DOF's top priority is protecting the state's forest resource from the ravages of wildfire. At the turn of the 20th century, wildfires devastated West Virginia's forests. In 1908, more than 1.7 million acres of forestland were destroyed by fire. As a result of this devastation, the West Virginia Reform Law of 1909 was established to protect the state's forests.