Mecklenburg County residents can get cozy around a fire outdoors despite a statewide burn ban issued as dry weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires, officials said.
The North Carolina Forest Service on Monday banned the burning of leaves, branches or other plant material until further notice. A wildfire at Pilot Mountain State Park north of Winston-Salem prompted the ban as fire crews fight to contain it through the windy and dry weather.
All burning permits also have been canceled statewide.
A burn ban has been issued for all counties in North Carolina due to hazardous forest fire conditions. This ban, which took effect at 5 p.m. today, will stay in effect until further notice. Learn more below! #NCAgriculture https://t.co/2f8Gyv6qHz pic.twitter.com/sLdFt8RX5k
— NCDA&CS (@NCAgriculture) November 29, 2021
While the ban prevents residents from burning the last-of-the-fall leaves on the ground, it won’t stop them from gathering around a warm fire.
The ban doesn’t apply to fires within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling, the forest service said. Local government agencies have jurisdiction over those fires.
Firepits and outdoor fireplaces are fine as long as safety precautions — such as a protective screen or an extinguishing method — are in place, the Huntersville Fire Department said in a tweet on Tuesday. All other open burning is prohibited.
“@MeckCounty is following the same guidelines as stated in the State ban,” the tweet said.
*BURN BAN UPDATE* What does this mean for us? @MeckCounty is following the same guidelines as stated in the State ban. Fire pits & outdoor fireplaces should be ok with precautions, protective screen & attended extinguishing method in place. All other open burning prohibited. https://t.co/DmTseks5Qr
— Huntersville Fire (@Huntersville_FD) November 30, 2021
Neither Mecklenburg County nor the City of Charlotte have announced a local ban on open fires close to occupied structures.
“This is a statewide burn ban! Let’s all do our part to protect life, property, and forestland,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management agency tweeted Monday.
This is a statewide burn ban! Let’s all do our part to protect life, property, and forestland. https://t.co/Bx2bUydcZR
— Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management (@CharMeckEM) November 29, 2021
In Charlotte, recreational fires are allowed for “pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes,” according to the fire department. However, fires must be at least 25 feet from structures and other combustible materials. Burning household trash, yard waste or construction materials is prohibited.
Campfires also are banned, but grills or portable gas stoves can still be used if no other local ordinances prohibit them, the forest service said.
The burning of trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics, or other non-vegetative materials is illegal, according to the state agency.
In Cabarrus County, the City of Concord’s fire marshal’s office on Tuesday banned fires within 100 feet of a structure.
Like the statewide ban, any previously issued burning permits are now invalid and “fires should be extinguished immediately,” according to a release from the city. This includes any outdoor burning at a residence.
Anyone in violation of the ban could receive a citation or fine, the marshal’s office said. The issuance of new burning permits has also been suspended.