Effective at noon Monday, April 13, 2020, the N.C. Forest Service has lifted a ban on all open burning for the following counties in western North Carolina: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey. The burn ban went into effect on April 3 due to hazardous forest fire conditions in the area.
While burn permits are now available in those counties, N.C. Forest Service officials continue to urge residents to reconsider burning yard debris through the end of May as careless debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina.
“Recent rainfall across the state, especially in our western counties, has helped with dry conditions, but it is important to remember that we are still in the midst of spring wildfire season and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Preventing escaped debris burns is something each of us can do to protect our communities and our first responders.”
At this time, burn permits are being issued online only while NCFS office locations remain temporarily closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online burn permit system is available statewide. All burn permits previously granted for the 32 counties affected by this burn ban were canceled when the ban became effective. New burn permit applications must be submitted online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.
Residents with questions regarding their specific county can contact their county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service (Alexander Office phone 828-632-5810) or their county fire marshal’s office (in Alexander, 828-632-9336).