NC Forest Service And New Hanover County Issue Burn Bans

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NC Forest Service And New Hanover County Issue Burn Bans Featured

By / Local News / Monday, 03 June 2019 15:24

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Due to abnormally dry conditions in the Cape Fear Region, a burning ban has been issued by the North Carolina Forest Service and New Hanover County.

County Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Frank Meyer explained on May 31st, "Due to the high heat and extreme drought conditions the potential for grass and woods fires has increased significantly. For the safety and security of the citizens or and visitors to New Hanover County, effective immediately, all open burning is prohibited until further notice. The North Carolina Forest Service has cancelled all burning permits and prohibited open burning in New Hanover County and surrounding areas."

According to Meyer, the ban applies to all fires, including those within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Open burning includes burning leaves, branches or other plant material, as well as campfires and fire pits. In all cases, burning trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-vegetative material is illegal.

The ban issued by the North Carolina Forest Service covers eighteen counties: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington.

That ban went into effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, 2019, and remains in effect until further notice. The Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions.

According to a release from the Forest Service, "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 has also been suspended until the ban is lifted. Violating the burn ban incurs a $100 fine plus $180 court costs. The person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for reimbursing the N.C. Forest Service for any expenses related to extinguishing it."

"The dry weather conditions these last few weeks, plus the potential for an increase in human-caused wildfires in the region, makes this ban on open burning necessary," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "During the month of May, there have been 355 wildfires statewide, covering 1,348 acres. This burn ban is a proactive step to protect lives and property by preventing human-caused wildfires."

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

In Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, open burning is generally prohibited with the exception of obtaining special permission from the fire chief for certain situations.

According to the North Carolina Forest Service, grills can still be used for cooking if no other local ordinance prohibits their use.

The burn ban issued by the N.C. Forest service does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Local government agencies such as New  Hanover County have jurisdiction over open burning within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. If a fire within a 100-foot area of a dwelling 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 liable for reimbursing the N.C. Forest Service for any expenses related to extinguishing it. Camp fires are considered open burning and are covered by the ban. Using a gas stove or grill while camping are alternatives to campfires.

To learn more about wildfire risk assessments and preparedness and prevention plans on the N.C. Forest Service website at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_wui.htm

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