CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Wednesday marks the start of the Virginia spring wildfire season, and the Virginia Department of Forestry wants to remind people of a few things before they burn.

The spring season brings a combination of drier weather, higher winds, warmer temperatures, and dead vegetation, greatly increasing the risk of a wildfire.

On average, Virginia sees about 700 wildfires a year, with nearly 60 percent of them happening during the spring.

Each year, the wildfire season runs from Feb, 15 to April 30, and that means the 4 p.m. burn law is in effect. The law says people are not allowed to start any kind of fire until after 4 p.m.

"Burning after 4 p.m., remember to stay with your fire at all times and keep a rake or shovel on hand as well as a charged hose and your phone so you can call 911 if your fire gets out of your control," said Cory Swift, a communications specialist with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

The 4 p.m. burn law applies to any fires not contained within a fireproof device including campfires, brush piles,  and warming fires.

It is also good to remember that new fires cannot be started after midnight.

Violation of the burning law is a class-3 misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $500. A person may also be held liable for the cost of fighting a fire and property damage.