Charlotte, Henry counties declare burn bans as ‘severe drought’ conditions reported in parts of Southside

Southside Virginia News

(WFXR) — As unusually dry weather conditions create a high risk of wildfires in various localities around Southside Virginia, both Charlotte County and Henry County have now declared burn bans — whether for open burning or outdoor burning — until further notice.

The National Weather Service (NWS) says that some areas of Southside Virginia — more specifically, Halifax, Charlotte, Pittsylvania, and Mecklenberg counties, as well as Danville — are being classified as “severe drought” conditions. Below is the latest drought monitor:

According to a statement shared by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, the NWS declared that the majority of the county is experiencing “moderate to severe drought conditions.”

In addition, the NWS reportedly expects Charlotte County will receive less precipitation than usual through the end of December.

Because of these factors, the sheriff’s office says that a ban on open burning will go into effect for Charlotte County at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2 and will stay in effect until the county receives a significant amount of rainfall that decreases the fire risk.

“Open burning is the burning of materials wherein products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack or chimney from an enclosed chamber. This includes, but is not limited to, the burning of leaves, brush, and/or other vegetation,” the sheriff’s office said in Thursday’s statement. “Dry conditions currently exist outdoors that are favorable for rapid fire spread due to the lack of measurable rainfall throughout the County.”

Violating Charlotte County’s burn ban will be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

As for Henry County, officials say that all outdoor burning will be prohibited until further notice starting Saturday, Dec. 4. The only exceptions to this ban are covered gas, electric, or charcoal barbecue grills/smokers, as well as manufactured outdoor wood furnaces.

The effects of successive weeks of very little rainfall have significantly elevated the dangers of fire throughout the County.

“Henry County hasn’t seen this level of fire danger since our last burn ban in September 2019,” said Lisa Garrett, Fire Marshal for Henry County. “Conditions are dangerous, and we need everyone to understand the seriousness of this issue. We need this ban for everyone’s protection.”

You may still obtain a permit for outside fires during the ban under certain conditions. For more information, either call the Fire Marshal’s Office at 276-634-4660 or visit www.hcdps.com.

Henry County officials say that NWS forecasters expect these extremely dry conditions will continue into the near future — with only a slight chance for precipitation during that period — and contribute to the county’s firefighting conditions, which are already challenging.

Failure to comply with Henry County’s outdoor burning ban may result in criminal charges.

This news comes after Danville, Pittsylvania County, and Halifax County issued similar burn bans earlier this week.

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