Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits statewide until further notice.
The move comes as moderate drought conditions continue to settle in from central North Carolina to the Outer Banks, with just minimal rainfall recently.
That is increasing the threat of wildfires, especially on dry, windy days that have been common this fall.
The number of wildfires has jumped dramatically the last two weeks in North Carolina, including one that has burned around 400 acres of Pilot Mountain State Park northwest of Winston-Salem since Saturday.
— Chad Silber ✌🏼 (@ChadSilber) November 29, 2021
**STATEWIDE BURN BAN, EFFECTIVE 11/29 at 5 p.m.**
Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits statewide effective at 5 p.m. today until further notice.
Read more: https://t.co/GUKVJJhVfW pic.twitter.com/YWK4noVU8S
— N.C. Forest Service (@ncforestservice) November 29, 2021
“It is fall wildfire season in North Carolina, and we are seeing wildfire activity increase due to dry conditions,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “With these ongoing conditions, a statewide burn ban is necessary to reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading quickly. Our top priority is always to protect lives, property and forestland across the state.”
Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted. Anyone violating the burn ban faces a $100 fine plus $183 court costs. Any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.
Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban.
The N.C. Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions. Residents with questions regarding a specific county can contact their N.C. Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office.
FAQ on the burning ban from the N.C. Forest Service:
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-forecast.
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/.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.