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N.C. Forest Service lifts burn bans across the state

Fire experts with the N.C. Forest Service say rain helped reduce the fire danger in the North Carolina mountains and Piedmont, prompting the agency to lift the ban on open burning for 47 counties.

The burn ban has been lifted in 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 counties.

“Fire experts with the N.C. Forest Service have looked closely at all the counties under a ban on open burning and are comfortable the recent rains have helped lessen the fire danger,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “However, people should continue to use caution with campfires and when burning yard debris.”

The N.C. Forest Service will continue to evaluate fire conditions across the state, Troxler said.

Those looking to burn yard debris will need to apply for a burn permit, even if one had already been issued prior to the ban.

Many counties are also imposing their own local ordinances prohibiting burning within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling, such as your home, so residents should call their local fire marshal before engaging in any burning activities. Outdoor burning is also prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts.

While rainfall and lower temperatures have reduced fire danger, the precipitation has not ended drought conditions in the state. If the state continues to have warmer temperatures, below-normal precipitation and drought, and there is an increase in the number of wildfires, the ban on open burning could be reinstated.

Based on North Carolina’s open burning laws, the N.C. Forest Service offers these tips to landowners:

Make sure you have an approved burning permit. You can obtain a burning permit at any N.C. Forest Service office, a county-approved burning permit agent, or online at

Check with your county fire marshal’s office for local laws on burning debris. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours; others forbid it entirely.

The national forests, national parks and state parks might also have recently put burn bans in place. Please check with them if your intent is to have a campfire on property they manage.

Check the weather. Don’t burn if conditions are dry or windy.

Consider alternatives to burning. Some yard debris such as leaves and grass may be more valuable if composted.

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. Trash should be hauled away to a convenience center.

Plan burning for the late afternoon when conditions are typically less windy and more humid.

If you must burn, be prepared. Use a shovel or hoe to clear a perimeter around the area around where you plan to burn. Keep fire tools ready. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, a steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire.

Never use flammable liquids such as kerosene, gasoline or diesel fuel to speed debris burning.

Stay with your fire until it is completely out. In North Carolina, human carelessness leads to more wildfires than any other cause. In fact, debris burning is the number cause of wildfires in North Carolina.

For more information, contact Brian Haines, NCFS public information officer at 919-857-4828.

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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