The Virginia Department of Forestry says a statewide outdoor burning ban is in effect starting Saturday until the end of April.
The forestry department says state law prohibits outdoor burning of trash or debris before 4 p.m. if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brush, or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.
Violators could be fined up to $500. If an illegal fire escapes, a violator also is financially liable for the cost of fighting the blaze and any property damage it causes.
Forestry officials say the ban is one of the most effective tools the agency has to prevent wildfires.
In addition to open burning, debris burning in metal barrels also has been the source of wildland fires this year.