FYI: Burn Ban Issued for Forsyth County, 46 other NC Counties

The following was provided for your information by Forsyth County and the North Carolina Forest Service

Due to abnormally dry conditions, North Carolina has issued a burning ban for Forsyth County until further notice. All burning permits have been cancelled and open burning such as leaf and brush piles, camp fires, bonfires, barrels and other open burning is not allowed. Extreme caution should be exercised when discarding ashes.

Gas grills and enclosed cooking and patio devices are allowed within 100 feet of an occupied structure, if used in a safe location, are constantly attended and meet local ordinances.

This ban is issued by the N.C. Forestry Service in coordination with Forsyth County Environmental Assistance and Protection and the Forsyth County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued. The issuance of any new permits also has been suspended until the ban is lifted. Violation of the ban carries a $100 fine plus court costs of $180.

The ban on open burning is necessary because of the dry weather conditions and the potential for the increase in human-caused wildfires in the region. As of Nov. 20, there have been 3,021 wildfires affecting more than 19,058 acres on state protected lands across North Carolina this year. In the mountains alone, there have been 1,203 fires that have burned 4,015 acres.

photo courtesy nc forest service
photo courtesy nc forest service

Those numbers do not include fires burning on federal lands, the Party Rock fire near Lake Lure and the Chestnut Knob fire. The Party Rock fire has burned 7,171 acres since it was first reported on Nov. 5. The Chestnut Knob fire, burning in the South Mountain State Park, has burned 6,433 acres since it was first reported on Nov. 6. These fires, combined with those on federal lands, have burned closed to 46,000 acres in Western N.C. State protected lands include state and private owned properties.

“Fire experts with the N.C. Forest Service feel the current drought situation and the increase in available forest fuels makes it necessary to increase the number of counties under the burn ban,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We want to be proactive in our approach and take appropriate action to prevent the potential for human-caused wildfires.”

An open burn ban is now in place for the entire counties of Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.

Here are a few facts about the law regarding the ban on open burning:

  • The burn ban does not apply to cooking fires such as grills or outdoor cookers.
  • The ban does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. County fire marshals 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 asked for their consideration of also implementing a burning ban. In addition, other local ordinances and air quality regulations may also impact open burning.
  • If a fire within that 100-foot area 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 responsible for reimbursing the N.C. Forest Service for any expenses related to extinguishing it.
    Open burning includes burning leaves, branches and other plant material. In all cases, it is illegal to burn trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-vegetative materials.
  • Outdoor burning is also prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts.

Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban.