NC Commissioner Troxler: Spring Burning Tips

March signals the start of spring wildfire season as people venture outside to burn yard debris. The N.C. Forest Service urges caution when burning to avoid a fire getting out of control.

We are entering spring fire season, so it’s a good time to remind residents to exercise caution when burning leaves or other yard waste to avoid having a fire get out of control.

Fires getting out of control happens more times than you might think.

In 2022, nearly 6,400 wildfires burned more than 27,000 acres across the state, with escaped outdoor fires being the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina.

In fact, North Carolina ranked third in the nation for the number of human-caused wildfires.

Because many people are out working in their yards as the weather starts to warm, March through May can be the peak months for wildfire activity.

Some tips to keep in mind if you plan to burn yard debris are don’t burn on dry, windy days and make sure to have a valid burn permit from a local N.C. Forest Service office.

Be prepared before beginning a burn with items to help put the fire out. You’ll need a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. It’s also a good idea to have a phone nearby, just in case.

Also, before you burn, check on local burning laws. Some communities allow burning only during specific hours, while others don’t allow it.

Local fire officials can recommend safe ways to burn debris. For example, don’t pile vegetation on the ground. Put it in a cleared area and contain it in a screened receptacle away from overhead branches and wires.

Stay with a fire until it is completely out.

If you are burning agricultural residue and forestland litter, you should plow a fire line around the area to be burned. Separate large fields into smaller plots for burning one at a time.

Before burning in a wooded area, contact your N.C. Forest Service county ranger for technical advice.

Of course, another good idea is to consider alternatives to burning, such as using yard debris for compost or mulch.

If you choose to burn, please do so responsibly.