PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Fall fire season is underway and the Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) predicts it could be a busy one.

According to DOF officials, Virginia had a particularly dry summer which can make wildfires more likely to spark.

When wildfires break out this time of year, the combination of low humidity, windy conditions, dry grasses and fallen leaves can make them spread quickly.

So, from now through November, be extra careful when burning yard debris, or enjoying a campfire or backyard fire pit.

“Most of Virginia had a very dry summer which causes leaves to fall earlier,” said DOF Chief of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “Unfortunately, these factors only improve conditions for wildfires to occur. However, with basic fire safety measures, we can stop most wildfires before they start. It’s just like Smokey Bear says, ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.’”

Now’s a great time to get rid of excess vegetation around your home that could pose an escaped fire threat. DOF says escaped debris burns are the leading cause of wildfires in Virginia.

Take these simple precautions to dramatically reduce the likelihood of a debris burn escaping your control:

  • Avoid burning on dry, windy days
  • Keep your burn pile small
  • Have a rake or shovel and water hose on hand
  • Have a phone ready to call 911 if a fire escapes your control
  • Stay with your fire until it’s completely out (drown, stir, ensure it’s cool)
  • Consider a “green” alternative to burning yard debris: compost your organic yard waste for your garden or yard

Visit Smokey Bear’s website for more fire prevention tips and videos.