Briana Heaney Published

Thousands Of Acres Burn As Dry Weather Continues

A rusty looking wall lines a path where the trees and earth is burned.
Burn scar in New River Gorge after a wildfire in 2022.
Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Seventy-five fires have set an estimated 16,000 acres, or 25 square miles ablaze statewide, Gov. Jim Justice said in Wednesday’s briefing

Many of the fires are in the southern region of the state. 

According to the National Weather Service, improperly extinguished leaf burns that grew out of control caused many of the fires. The National Weather Service said the warmer sunny weather and dry conditions have exacerbated the fires. Justice warned residents to take special caution due to the weather patterns. 

“It has been incredibly dry the last 30 days. So with all that being said, please, please, please be careful,” Justice said. “You know, the fall fire season is in effect until Dec. 31. It’s essential to all West Virginians to be aware of, and to follow, the necessary regulations to prevent wildfires, because it can get really bad, really bad.”

According to the National Weather Service, a wet front is expected to move in Thursday or Friday, which will curb fire growth. However, until precipitation begins, the land is susceptible to fire and any burning should be practiced with caution, Justice said. 

“It’s so simple just, you know, burning trash or whatever in your backyard. And all of a sudden, you know, a spark gets loose, and it goes into a back woodlot,” Justice said. 

Trash burning is illegal in West Virginia. Leaf burns are permitted from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. and must be properly extinguished.