Spring Fire Season Is Here, Be Careful When Burning Debris

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As crews fight two wildfires in Western North Carolina, the N.C. Forest Service is also urging residents across the state to exercise caution when burning debris during spring fire season, which typically lasts from March to May.

Firefighters from the NCFS and the U.S. Forest Service are battling the 595-acre Weed Lane Fire in Buncombe County. One home has been destroyed and five more damaged.

The NCFS is also assisting the USFS on the 150-acre Poplar Fire in Mitchell County.  The causes of the fires are under investigation.

In spring, people do a lot of yard work that often includes burning leaves and yard debris. There are many factors to consider before burning any debris. The NCFS encourages residents considering debris burning to contact their local county forest ranger. 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 NCFS urges them to adhere to the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

  • Consider alternatives to burning. Some yard debris, such as leaves and grass, may be more valuable if composted.
  • 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.
  • Make sure you have an approved burning permit, which can be obtained at any NCFS office, county-approved burning permit agent, or online at http://ncforestservice.gov.
  • Check the weather. Don’t burn if conditions are dry or windy.
  • Only burn natural vegetation from your property. Burning household trash or any other man-made materials is illegal. 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 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 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 No. 1 cause of wildfires in the state.
  • These same tips hold true for campfires and barbeques, too. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfire thoroughly with water. When the coals are soaked, stir them 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.

For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires and loss of property visit http://ncforestservice.gov.

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