Commissioner Troxler: Exercise Caution When Burning Debris


The NC Forest Service is urging residents to think safety and exercise caution during the spring fire season which runs through May. Commissioner Steve Troxler has some steps each of us should take to be prepared before starting that fire.

  • Spring can be an especially tricky time of year to do debris burning. Fires can quickly get out of hand if not tended to closely or if conditions change and become windy. The numbers don’t lie about the seriousness of this warning — debris burning is the No. 1 cause of wildfires.
  • Our N.C. Forest Service reminds people to be safe and exercise caution when burning yard debris.
  • The agency offers a number of good tips and recommendations to consider before striking a match.
  • Look for alternatives to burning. Some yard waste, such as leaves and grass, can provide valuable nutrients to gardens and plant beds if composted.
  • Burning of yard waste is prohibited in some places and during certain hours in others. Check with your county fire marshal’s office for local laws on burning debris.
  • If burning is allowed, get an approved burn permit through a N.C. Forest Service Office, a county-approved burning permit agent of online at
  • Be mindful of conditions. Never burn when conditions are dry or windy. Late afternoons might offer a better time when conditions are typically less windy and more humid.
  • Only burn natural vegetation. Burning household trash and any other man-made materials is illegal.
  • Be prepared, be prepared, be prepared before you begin a burn.
  • What does that mean?
    • Clear a perimeter around the burn area of any flammable materials.
    • Keep fire tools at the ready, including a hose, bucket, a steel rake and a shovel to toss dirt on a fire. Have these on hand before you strike a match.
    • Don’t use flammable liquids such as gasoline, kerosene or disel fuel to speed up the burn.
    • Stay with your fire until it is completely out. This is also true for campfires and barbecues. Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfire thoroughly with water. When the coals are soaked, stir them and soak them again. Be sure they are out and cold before leaving the burn site. Don’t dump hot ashes or coals in a wooded area.
  • It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to wildfires.