Causes of Forest Fires

Forest fires, also called wildfires or outdoor fires, occur on average between 1,500 and 2,500 times per year. These fires burn an average of 8,000 to 10,000 acres. People are injured or killed, buildings are destroyed, and significant damage to the forest and environment occurs.

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is responsible for the control of forest fires in counties and some cities. Fire departments, forest industry, and many volunteers work together with the VDOF wardens to save lives, property, and forest resources. Forest wardens investigate all forest fires to find the person responsible, collect suppression costs, or issue a summons to court for forest fire law violations.

In Virginia, most forest fires are the result of human actions, and can be prevented by using common sense, following fire safety rules, and obeying fire laws. The greatest number of fires occur in February, March, April and May. This period is known as Spring Fire Season. Fall Fire Season in October, November and December.

Virginia Fire Causes and their percentages

Cause Percent
Open Burning 30
Arson 20
Smokers  14
(house, vehicle, aircraft, etc.
that spread to the forest)
Children  9
Equipment Use 7
Railroads 5
Lightning 3
Campfires 1

Last modified: Tuesday, 25-Nov-2014 12:16:13 EST