Fall wildfire season begins Saturday in Virginia: What does that mean?

The fall wildfire season lasts until November 30.
The fall wildfire season lasts until November 30.(WHSV)
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 8:45 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 3:26 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - Virginia’s fall wildfire season starts Saturday, Oct. 15 which means it’s the time of the year when burning is more dangerous due to several factors including weather.

This time of the year brings periods of lower humidity that can be combined with gusty winds. This most commonly comes after cold fronts pass through our area.

Adding on to the weather, falling leaves also contribute to an increased risk of wildfires this time of year. Falling leaves just add more dry fuel to get a fire started. The ground can dry out as soon as 3 days after recent rain.

In the case that snow is on the ground, the risk of a wildfire developing is very low.

There are a few things that people do that cause fires to get out of control in Virginia.

Chad Briggs from the Virginia Department of Forestry said debris burning is the number one cause of wildfires in the fall in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, 37 percent of fall wildfires are started by debris burning. When people rake their leaves up, they may choose to burn the leaves as it is the easiest way to get rid of them.

Other top causes include arson at 18 percent, miscellaneous cases at 15 percent, and misusing equipment and smoking at 8 percent.

However, some wildfires are caused when some fail to put fires completely out like campfires.

37% of wildfires are caused by burning debris.
37% of wildfires are caused by burning debris.(VDOF)

“Campfire that they didn’t fully suppress before leaving for the evening. It can and we’ve seen this across the state. It can reignite even days later if it isn’t checked,” said Briggs.

Briggs said one way you can check if the fire is completely put out is to place your hand over the area where the fire was. If you don’t feel any heat, Briggs said you should be good to go.

Some other tips include placing enough water on your burn pile and to avoid placing ashes near any wood deck or your home.

The WHSV First Alert Storm Team will let you know when conditions are favorable for wildfires. The fall wildfire season lasts until Nov. 30.

The state of Virginia does not have a statewide burn ban in the fall but counties and cities may have their own laws. You can find that information on your county or city’s government website.