The N.C. Forest Service has lifted a ban on all open burning effective at noon Wednesday, Dec. 8, for the following counties in North Carolina: Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Cabarrus, Camden, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Chowan, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gaston, Gates, Graham, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Haywood, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Martin, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Swain, Tyrell, Union, Wake, Warren, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.
The ban, which went into effect Nov. 29 due to hazardous forest fire conditions, remains in effect for the additional 33 North Carolina counties.
“The rainfall we are seeing across much of the state right now is doing what we need it to do,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Forest fuels are soaking it in, and conditions are improving.”
“Residents in the 67 counties no longer under the state’s burn ban should still burn responsibly, check for local burning restrictions, and make sure you have a valid permit,” Troxler said. “Check the weather, and never leave a debris fire unattended. If you’re in one of the 33 counties still under the state’s burn ban, please be patient and hold off on burning”.
As of noon, burn permits are available in the 67 counties no longer included in the state’s ban on open burning. Residents can obtain a burn permit from any authorized permitting agent or online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit. For the 67 counties no longer included in the ban, all burn permits previously granted were canceled when the ban became effective. A valid permit must be obtained.
Residents with questions regarding their specific county can contact their N.C. Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office. To find contact information for your local NCFS county ranger, visit www.ncforestservice.gov/contacts.
Answers to FAQ
Q: What is open burning?
A: Open burning includes burning leaves, branches or other plant material. In all cases, burning trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other nonvegetative material is illegal.
Q: May I still use my grill or barbecue?
A: Yes, if no other local ordinances prohibit their use.
Q: How should I report a wildfire?
A: Call 911 to report a wildfire.
Q: How should I report a person who intentionally starts a wildfire?
A: Call 911 to report a wildfire.
Q: My local fire marshal has also issued a burn ban for my county. What does this mean?
A: The burn ban issued by the N.C. Forest service does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Local government agencies have jurisdiction over open burning within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. The N.C. Forest Service has advised county fire marshals of the burning ban and has asked for their consideration of also implementing a burning ban. If a fire within a 100-foot area of a dwelling escapes containment, a North Carolina forest ranger may take reasonable steps to extinguish or control it. The person responsible for setting the fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.
Q: Are there other instances which impact open burning?
A: Local ordinances and air quality regulations may impact open burning. For instance, outdoor burning is prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts. Learn more about air quality forecasts at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/air-quality/air-quality-outreach-education/air-quality-forecasts.
Q: Can I still use my fire pit or outdoor fireplace?
A: In excess of 100 feet from an occupied dwelling, campfires, fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and burn barrels are considered open burning and are subject to the burn ban. Within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling, local government agencies have jurisdiction over open burning. All local burn bans are set independently. The N.C. Forest Service has advised county fire marshals of the burning ban and has asked for their consideration of also implementing a burning ban. Check with your local fire marshal about local restrictions.
Q: Can I have a campfire when I go camping?
A: Campfires would be considered open burning and are not exempt from the burn ban. During a burn ban, portable gas stoves or grills are alternate methods for cooking food while camping.
Q: What can I do to protect my house against the risk of wildfire?
A: Learn about wildfire risk assessments and preparedness and prevention plans on the N.C. Forest Service website at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_wui.htm or https://www.resistwildfirenc.org/.
Feature photo of a controlled burn in summer of 2018 by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.