Burning ban issued for 25 mountain counties in North Carolina

- Because of increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service announced they have issued a ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits for the following counties in Western North Carolina: Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.

The burning ban will take effect at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, and will be in effect until further notice.

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.

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, authorities said. 

Violation of the ban carries a $100 fine plus court costs of $180.

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.

As of Nov. 6, there had been 2,829 wildfires affecting more than 18,158 acres on state-protected lands across North Carolina this year. More than 1,000 of those fires were in the mountains and burned 3,375 acres. State-protected lands include state- and privately owned properties.

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