Thursday, December 7, 2023

Burn bans in effect after Hurricane Florence, residents urged not to tie up emergency resources

Burning debris not only causes air quality concerns but could tie up vital resources already spread thin.

WILMINGTON — It has been a week since Hurricane Florence struck the Cape Fear region and clean up efforts will continue for weeks to come — but while burning yard debris seems like a fast and effective way to get rid of downed trees, local officials are urging residents not to do it.

The City of Wilmington has a permanent burn ban already, Wilmington Fire Department Spokeswoman Natosha Vincent said, so burning yard debris is already not permitted, regardless of the time of year.

But that has not stopped people from doing so, she said.

“In past 24 hours, the Wilmington Fire Department has seen a tremendous increase in the number of calls about the illegal burning of storm and yard debris.  Residents are reminded that there is a PERMANENT BURN BAN within the city limits of Wilmington and this burn ban includes any yard debris left behind by Hurricane Florence,” Vincent wrote in an email

Residents might think that burning debris is useful, but with the influx of calls for illegal burns, firefighters that are already spread thin have to respond to these calls using precious resources and time.

Wilmington is not alone with its burn ban, New Hanover County, which usually allows residents to open burn debris is also under a ban.

“… there is a ban on open burning in the unincorporated areas of New Hanover County until further notice. The ban is in place due to the large amount of storm debris from Hurricane Florence. There is an increased risk for injury and for property damage during this time and the ban will remain in effect while the storm debris removal continues,” according to New Hanover County’s website.

Those caught in violation of the burn ban will face civil penalties. Brunswick County is also under a burn ban.

“A burning ban has been issued for all unincorporated areas of Brunswick County in the wake of Hurricane Florence. All burning within 100 feet of a structure is banned. At this time, Brunswick County has limited fire-fighting resources and water, as many roads remain closed and responders remain focused on life safety mission,” according to a Brunswick County release.

Pender County is not under a burn ban at the time, but there are rules residents must follow from the state before burning, Pender County Spokeswoman Tammy Proctor said. Those regulations can be found here.

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