A growing number of counties in central and southern Virginia are instituting bans on outdoor burning due to dry conditions and a growing number of wildfires. The Nelson County Board of Supervisors adopted both a drought emergency ordinance today and a prohibition on fires.
“We’re now at 14.27 percent of the county in extreme drought up at the Augusta County border,” said Administrator Candice McGarry. “[Another] 49.65 percent is in severe drought which is west of U.S. 29 and 36.08 percent is in moderate drought which is east of U.S. 29.”
McGarry said the drought is affecting agriculture in the county and that area waterways like the Rockfish River and Ty River are all below normal levels due to a lower than usual level of precipitation. The emergency declaration allows for the ban on outdoor burning on private and public property.
“This drought emergency will effective until such time as the county receives significant rainfall that decreases the fire risk,” McGarry said.
Greene County also has begun a period of restrictions as implementation began at noon today. They’ve been under a drought emergency since early September.
“No one in Greene County may burn and items outside or dispose of any burning embers outside (including, but not limited to leaves, garbage, shrubbery, fire pits, open-air grills, or campfires) because of the potential that such burning or disposal may cause uncontrolled fires,” reads the press release.
Violations are a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The Quaker Fire in Madison County is considered contained according to a website updated by the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Later in the day, Louisa County also announced a ban on outdoor burning. This press release was sent out just after 5 p.m.
“Due to worsening dry conditions along with a weather pattern that is expected to bring an increase in wind, the County of Louisa is prohibiting open-air burning until further notice, pursuant to the County of Louisa Ordinance Section 42-2.b,” reads that press release.
The release notes that the ban does not apply to charcoal, gas, or liquid-fired grills.
“Any person violating the provisions shall be guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $500.00 for each separate offense, and shall in addition to such penalties be liable for all costs incurred in controlling or attempting to control any fire resulting from prohibited burning,” the release continues.
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