Update: 4/11/2012 6:30 P.M.
It's nearly half-over...and so far, the forest fire season in West Virginia has been a busy one.
The Division of Forestry says there have been more than 20 forest and brush fires since the first of the year in Wood and surrounding counties.
The mild winter, coupled with windy conditions and leaves which dry out after they form on trees.
"With no snow pack, there was nothing to break down the underbrush and the leaves from last fall. So now, as the wind blows, as it has for the last couple of days, it dries out considerably. Once we get a small fire, it doesn't take long to turn into a big one."
That overnight fire was reported in the Flint Ridge area in Wirt County.
Few details are known, but we're told it burned a big part of a hillside.
Spring doesn't officially begin for a few more weeks, but March first is the official start of the spring fire season.
This year could be an active one, thanks to the mild winter we've had so far, and the resulting warm weather and recent gusty winds.
While most of the fires we hear about are in rural areas, the city of Parkersburg also has some safeguards in place to prevent brush fires from happening in the city limits.
"We give out a burn permit, and we observe the site before we give out the permit," says city fire inspector Tim Flinn. "We ask that there be a 100-foot clearance from any structures, power lines or vehicles. And you should have a water hose or extinguishing system next to you when you're burning."
The West Virginia Division of Forestry says outdoor burning is prohibited between the hours of 7 A.M. and 5 P.M. Ohio's laws bar open debris fires from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M.
For some suggestions about safe burning, go to the "hot button" on our homepage.
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