Supervisors to adopt burn ordinance

Published 8:30 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

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The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors will consider and possibly adopt a Burn Ban Ordinance during their next board meeting on Dec. 11.

The decision to adopt a burn ban ordinance comes weeks following the decision of other surrounding counties to enact a county-wide burn ban during drought conditions.

Charlotte County did not have a burn ban during drought conditions, while other counties like Prince Edward and Lunenburg opted to do so.

County Administrator Dan Witt explained the reasoning. 

“Those two counties both had an ordinance in place allowing them to put a ban in place; Charlotte County did not,” Witt said. “This ordinance will allow a ban in the future if/when needed.”

Witt further said that the county could have implemented a burn ban in the case of a State emergency. 

Though no burn ban was implemented, the county emergency services sent out a code red notice making people aware of the drought conditions and fire danger. 

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF), local counties and cities may impose their own restrictions, such as bans on burning during high fire danger weather and drought.

Each year in Virginia, more than 60 homes and other structures are damaged or destroyed by wildland fire. However, agency suppression efforts are credited with directly protecting more than 460 homes and 280 other structures, collectively worth more than 60 million dollars.

Virginia’s leading cause of wildfire is escaped debris burning.

Virginia’s fall fire season runs from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30, a period when dead leaves provide ample fuel for any spark. 

This year has proved especially challenging, with the Department of Forestry responding to 113 wildfires that have burned more than 12,000 acres since the season began. 

By comparison, the agency has said the average annual acreage affected by wildfires in Virginia is 9,500.

The DOF monitors weather and fuel conditions on a daily basis to estimate the expected level of wildfire activity in the Commonwealth. 

Since DOF responders do much more than respond to reports of wildfire, this daily fire danger measurement guides the agency’s overall readiness expectation for its suppression personnel.

Using components of the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS), DOF fire managers are able to predict the fire weather for today and tomorrow, establishing a readiness class day measure of 1 to 5.