A burn ban went into effect at noon Monday and all burning permits have been canceled for 26 counties, including a handful on the coast, until further notice.
The North Carolina Forest Service issued the ban because of an increased fire risk for the following counties: Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.
“Our state is getting drier and hotter, and wildfires like those conditions,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in a statement. “These conditions coming during spring wildfire season when wildfire activity and fire risks are already elevated, make this burn ban necessary to protect life and property in North Carolina.”
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.
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.
Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the North Carolina Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban. 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.
The Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions. Residents with questions regarding a specific county can contact their Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office.
Grilling is permitted if no other local ordinances prohibit their use though campfires are 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.
The burn ban issued by the Forest Service does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Local governments 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 any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.