Humidity levels across the state are low, and projected increases in moisture may not be enough to prevent fuels from igniting if a careless ember lands among forest debris. There have been nearly 600 wildfires across the state in November, according to Forest Service statistics. Debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina.
Individuals who determine that burning debris is a necessity should contact their county forest ranger. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to maximize the safety of 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.
The Forest Service urges people who choose to burn debris, to adhere to the following tips:
- Make sure you have a valid burning permit, which can be obtained at any N.C. Forest Service office or authorized permitting agent, or online at http://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 on dry, windy days.
- Some yard debris, such as leaves and grass, may be more valuable if composted.
- Burn natural vegetation only. 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.
- Be prepared. Have a shovel or hoe to clear a perimeter around the burn area.
- For fire control, 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 the fire until it is completely out.
- Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area. Instead, douse burning charcoal or campfires thoroughly with water; stir the coals and soak them again. Be sure they are extinguished.
- If you are burning agriculture residue or forestland litter, follow the rules above, but also plow a fire line around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Contact your county ranger before burning.
Studies have shown that taking these and other measures can greatly reduce the possibility of wildfires and the loss of property associated with them. For more information about preventing wildfires and property loss, log onto http://ncforestservice.gov and click on “Fire Control and Prevention.”