Gusty winds ignite more than 100 forest fires across Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — The Virginia Department of Forestry said the recent wind storm ignited several forest fires across the Commonwealth.

Spring wildfire season officially began on Feb. 15, and officials said the high winds only made things more dangerous.

The Department of Forestry said it responded to hundreds of fires across Virginia, including in Albemarle, Buckingham, Greene, Fluvanna, Frederick, Madison, Nelson, Louisa, Rockingham, and Shenandoah counties.

The VDOF said it has responded to 127 fires covering a total of 690 acres, with the largest fire spanning 302 acres.

At least 78 homes were saved from burning, which the VDOF estimated at about $12 million in total value.

"This high-risk season is made even more serious by the extreme weather conditions we’ve seen these past few days," said John Miller, VDOF director of fire and emergency response. "It’s important for people to be more aware of this elevated fire risk and to take more precautions than they otherwise might."

The VDOF said most wildfires in Virginia are the result of debris burning, which makes it extremely important to abide by the 4 p.m. burning law that recently took effect.

The law, which went into effect on Feb. 15, prohibits open burning between the hours of midnight and 4 p.m. daily.

But, in the recent extreme conditions, officials advise people to avoid burning altogether or use extra caution when burning during the permitted hours between 4 p.m. and midnight.

“Wildfires are very dangerous,” said Fred Turck, VDOF fire prevention manager. “Under such windy conditions, a wildfire can grow very quickly and be unpredictable. Even a small wildfire can destroy natural resources, homes and other buildings, and wildfires put Virginians and their firefighters in danger. If you are careful with anything that could start a wildfire, you are doing your part to prevent a wildfire.”

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