The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents throughout the state to think about safety and exercise caution during the upcoming fire season, which typically lasts statewide mid-March through mid-May.
The spring fire season coincides with when many people are getting back into their yards and doing spring cleanup that often includes burning leaves and yard debris.
The N.C. Forest Service encourages anyone considering debris burning to contact the local county forest ranger. There are many factors to consider before burning debris. The forest ranger can offer technical advice and explain what the best options are to help maximize the safety to people, property and the forest.
“Protect our natural resources by acting safely; don't burn on dry, windy days, and maintain a careful watch over a fire until it is extinguished,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
For people who choose to burn debris, the N.C. Forest Service urges them to adhere to the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:
Make sure you have an approved burning permit, which can be obtained at any N.C. Forest Service office, a county-approved burning permit agent, or online at ncforestservice.gov.
- 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.
- 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.
- Only burn natural vegetation from your property. Burning household trash or any other man-made materials is illegal. Trash should be taken to a convenience center.
- Plan burning for the late afternoon when conditions are typically less windy and more humid.
- 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 leading cause of wildfires in the state.
- These same tips hold true for campfires and barbeques. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or your campfire thoroughly with water. When soaked, stir the coals and soak them again. Be sure they are out cold and carefully feel to be sure they are extinguished. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
- Burning agriculture residue and forestland litter: In addition to the rules above, a fire line should be plowed around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Before doing any burning in a wooded area, contact your county ranger who will weigh all factors, explain them and offer technical advice.
Studies have shown that taking these and other measures can greatly reduce wildfires and the loss of property associated with them. For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires and loss of property visit ncforestservice.gov and click on the “Fire Control and Prevention” link.