SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The North Carolina Forest Service issued a burn ban in 26 of the state’s counties — including New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties — to combat dry conditions that present an elevated risk of fire.
Southeastern N.C. is currently under a moderate drought, the second-lowest ranking intensity out of five drought categories as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. So far this year, the state has already seen more than 2,500 wildfires — already exceeding 2020’s total by 200 fires.
Over the past three weeks, the region has seen less than an inch of rain, according to the National Weather Service Wilmington.
Dry conditions and warm temperatures increase the risk of fire ignition and rapid spread, the Wilmington Fire Department warned in a release. The conditions present “extreme fire danger,” according to the department.
“We are asking people to be extra vigilant right now,” Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette said in the release. “It only takes a small spark for a fire to start while weather conditions are so hot and dry.”
The ban, which went into effect noon Monday, prohibits all open burning of any material. People are still allowed to use a grill or barbecue, so long as local ordinance permits its use. After grilling, residents are strongly encouraged to use extreme caution when disposing of used charcoal; the coals should be thoroughly saturated with water and cooled in a noncombustible container before disposal.
New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties all issued their own burn bans, which applies to open burning within 100 feet of a dwelling (the state’s forest service jurisdiction applies outside this radius). Even if a burn permit was previously issued, the ban is still in effect.
Violating the ban could result in a $100 fine and $183 in court costs. Those responsible for starting a fire may be held liable for the costs encumbered to extinguish it.
Fires are often ignited by improperly discarded smoking materials. Cigarette butts should never been discarded without extinguishing embers or be tossed on the road or ground, dumpster or trashcan, or in landscaping or potted plants.
As a reminder, open burning is prohibited year-round in the City of Wilmington.
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