RALEIGH – With the impending arrival of fall wildfire season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and North Carolina (N.C.) Forest Service are reminding the public to exercise caution when engaging in recreational burning.
Peak months for the fall fire season extend from October through early December. Fires left unattended can get out of hand quickly, becoming wildfires that may threaten lives and property. Escaped fires due to careless backyard burning continue to be the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina.
“Fall weather and the beautiful changing foliage in North Carolina draws people outdoors to take in activities such as camping, hiking or working in their yards to dispose of leaves and other yard debris,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “When choosing to build a campfire, grill out in your yard or eliminate leaves by burning, it is important that you remain vigilant and safe with any outdoor fire to protect our forests. You are our best defense against wildfires.”
For fiscal year 2021-2022 there were 6,887 wildfires that burned 26,958 acres in North Carolina. Only 1% of those wildfires were directly linked to a natural ignition source such as lightning. The other 99% of wildfires during that span were directly related to human activity. Some of the state’s most intense wildfires during the fall of 2021 were caused by escaped campfires.
For those who choose to burn, the N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips:
- Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burn permit at any N.C. Forest Service office or authorized permitting agent, or online at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/burn_permits/burn_permits_main.htm.
- Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
- Keep your fire small, not tall.
- Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby, too.
- Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed up burning.
- Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires thoroughly with water. Drown all embers, not just the red ones.
- Never leave your fire. Stay with it until it is completely out.
To learn more about fire safety and preventing wildfires and loss of property, visit www.ncforestservice.gov and www.smokeybear.com. For more information and tips to help create a defensible space around your home and protect your property from wildfire, visit www.resistwildfirenc.org.