Wildfire season is approaching and fire officials are urging caution

The fall wildfire season begins in mid-October and fire officials are urging the public to be cautious with campfires and while burning yard debris. This year, North Carolina and surrounding states are facing dry weather conditions that can contribute to the spread of wildfire. In 2016, a year that had similar weather conditions, more than 59,511 acres of land burned in North Carolina alone. The leading cause of wildfires in the state is debris fires that grow out of control and start wildfires. 

In a joint news release, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the North Carolina Forest Service have asked residents to contact their local county forest ranger before burning yard debris. Rangers can provide advice and help residents make the best choices to ensure debris is burned safely. People that choose to burn their debris are asked to follow these tips to ensure proper burning:

  • Consider alternatives to burning. Leaves and grass, for example, can be used for mulch instead.
  • Check local burning laws—some communities allow burning only during certain hours while others do not permit burning at all.
  • Obtain a valid permit before burning and remember it is illegal to burn anything other than yard debris.
  • Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
  • Don’t pile vegetation on the ground to burn. Instead, place vegetation in a cleared area in a screened receptacle and avoid overhead branches and wires.
  • Before burning, acquire tools to control the fire, such as a hose, bucket, steel rake and shovel for tossing dirt on the fire.
  • Do not use flammable liquids to speed up burning and stay with your fire until it is completely extinguished. 
  • If burning agricultural residue or forestland litter, plow a fire line around the area that will be burned. Large fields should be divided into small plots and burned one at a time.

Campers are asked to follow these rules when burning campfires:

  • If fire rings are provided, use them, and clear an area of at least 15 feet around the fire ring.
  • Never leave campfires unattended.
  • To safely extinguish a campfire, allow the wood to burn to ash, if possible. Pour water on the fire to douse all embers, even if they don’t appear hot. Pour water until the hissing stops and then stir the campfire ashes with a shovel. Stir until the embers are cold to the touch. Dirt can be used to extinguish the fire if water isn’t available. Never bury the fire as it could catch roots on fire and start a wildfire.

To learn more about fire safety visit www.ncforestservice.gov and www.smokeythebear.com