Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits for the following counties in Eastern North Carolina: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Dare, Duplin, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington.
The burning ban went into effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, and will remain in effect until further notice. The N.C. Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions.
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.
According to the latest update from the U.S. Drought Monitor for North Carolina, eastern sections of the state remain in abnormally dry, leading to increased fire danger across the region.
Several southern coastal counties were upgraded to a moderate drought Thursday as dry conditions persist.
The recent lack of rainfall has increased the probability of wildfires, especially within the eastern portion of the North Carolina, according to the N.C. Forest Service.
At Cape Lookout National Seashore last Friday, a wildfire burned on a nearby, undeveloped, privately-owned island, sending plumes of smoke into the air that could been seen for miles.
“Browns Island is located between Harkers Island (where our Visitor Center is located) and the town of Marshallberg on the mainland,” seashore officials said on Facebook. “The North Carolina Forest Service and the Marshallberg Fire Department are monitoring the fire. Currently the fire will be allowed to burn itself out as it is confined to Browns island and cannot reach the mainland.”
Careless debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina. Fireworks are a popular beach pastime, but they are illegal in most Outer Banks towns. Nags Head, Southern Shores and Duck all prohibit fireworks of any kind, including sparklers. Kill Devil Hill and Kitty Hawk ban fireworks that propel or explode.
Campfires and barbeques also pose fire risks. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires 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.
For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires and loss of property, visit http://ncforestservice.gov.