Breaking News
More () »

North Carolina's burn ban: What you can and cannot burn during it

Dangerously dry conditions led local governments to take action to prevent any possible wildfires from popping up.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — North Carolina is under a statewide burn ban due to hazardous dry conditions. The North Carolina Forest Service is asking people to not have fires outdoors until further notice and canceled all burn permits for the state. 

“The moisture has evaporated out of [leaves, sticks and twigs] as our air becomes drier, and they get to a point they’re more easily ignited,” Union County Fire Marshal Kevin Rigoli said.

Rigoli said that is why the forest service implemented the burn ban.

“That keeps a small fire from growing and becoming a possibly tragic event like we’re seeing in Pilot Mountain today,” Rigoli said.

RELATED: Pilot Mountain wildfire: 1,000 acres burned as firefighters battle dry, windy conditions

The state’s burn ban applies to any area more than 100 feet away from an occupied dwelling.

“In some places, [people] will push all of the unwanted and unsalvageable trees and brush and vegetation into a pile, and they’ll get rid of it by burning it rather than trying to mulch or haul it off, and this burn ban keeps them from doing that right now," Rigoli explained.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

Rigoli acknowledged some people in Union County may be inconvenienced by this burn ban. 

“They burn those leaves to dispose of them because we don’t offer county-wide garbage pickup," Rigoli said.

Anyone who decides to violate the state’s burn ban could face a $100 fine and $183 in court costs, along with potential costs related to extinguishing the fire.

“If somebody’s injured in the fire or if something else tragic happens, then it could be criminal," Rigoli said.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

Union, Catawba, and Cabarrus counties along with the City of Concord have also implemented local burn bans.

“We have issued the burning ban from zero to 100 feet of the occupancy, and then the state’s burning ban picks up from 101 feet on," Concord Fire Marshal Adam Ryerson said.

Ryerson said that means no burning leaves or limbs, no bonfires and no open firepits or outdoor fireplaces.

“Basically, they can’t do anything with the exception of outdoor grills,” Ryerson said.

Rigoli said just implementing the ban speaks to how dangerous current drought conditions are.

“This is the first time since 2016 that we in Union County have issued a burning ban within 100 feet of a structure,” Rigoli noted.

WCNC Charlotte First Warn Weather Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said it's really important for people to check with officials in their town or city or county since each individual area can ban all outdoor fires. For instance, both Conover and Alexander County have banned all fires, no matter its distance to a dwelling.

🌩️ If you like weather, join Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte First Warn Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥

Ryerson said their ban is in place indefinitely until the state lifts theirs, and he hopes people take it seriously.

“If the grass does catch fire, and there's a little bit of wind, it may not cause your house to catch on fire, but it could cause your neighbor's house to catch on fire or multiple houses to catch on fire," Ryerson warned.

RELATED: Drought conditions continue to worsen in the Carolinas.

Ryerson and Rigoli both said they will be giving warnings to first offenders and will take action against repeat offenders. 

If you see an outdoor fire outside of grilling, you are asked to report it to your local authorities.

Panovich said because North Carolina is in a drought right now, coupling that with wind gusts over 20 mph, low humidity in the 20s to 30s combined with dry brush and leaves all over might mean the conditions will get worse way before they get better.

Contact Lana Harris at lharris@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram.

Before You Leave, Check This Out