The departments of Public Safety in Franklin and Pittsylvania counties officially lifted a ban on all open air burning last week after the area received much-needed rain.

The counties issued the ban in September due to dangerously dry conditions. While a ban was never ordered in Bedford County, its fire and rescue department issued an alert to residents earlier this month warning of the increased fire danger.

According to the National Weather Service, parts of the region have received between 3 to 5 inches of rain in the past two weeks. The amounts were enough for Pittsylvania County to lift its burn ban Oct. 21. Franklin County followed in lifting its ban two days later.

While the ban on all open-air burning is lifted, any burning of materials within 100 feet of a residence, garage or other structure or fence made of flammable material is illegal unless confined to a closed container or an open container attended by an able-bodied person.

Current law also requires any burning to be done between 9 a.m. and midnight and that all embers must be extinguished by then. No additional material can be added to the fire after 9 p.m.

A violation of the burn requirements is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by confinement of up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 fine.