The N.C. Forest Service defines March through May as Spring wildfire season and cautions residents to be careful when burning during this time of year.
- As the temperatures warm up, people are getting out in their yards, clearing out debris from gardens, flower beds and woody areas.
- Some will take the opportunity to burn the yard waste, which is why the N.C. Forest Service cautions residents to use care when burning during the Spring wildfire season.
- Windy, dry conditions make it easier for a yard fire to get out of control and spread. It happens more than people think.
- Every year, almost 40 percent of wildfires in North Carolina are the result of careless debris burning.
- Which is why you should never leave a debris fire unattended, and always have a water source and phone nearby in case you need them.
- Depending on the debris, it may make more sense to compost. For example, leaves, grass and stubble can add nutrients to the soil as compost or mulch.
- If you do decide to burn, the N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips:
- Check local burning laws. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours. Others forbid it entirely.
- Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burn permit at any open authorized permitting agent or online at www.ncforestservice.gov/burnpermit.
- Don’t pile vegetation on the ground. Instead, place it in a cleared area and contain it in a screened receptacle away from overhead branches and wires. Keep your pile small, not tall.
- Keep an eye on the weather and possible weather changes. Postpone outdoor burning during high winds or gusts, or periods of low relative humidity. Even if you have a valid permit, stop burning if strong winds develop. It is too easy for a spark to travel and unintentionally spread a fire in windy conditions.
- Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby, too.
- Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed up debris burning.
- Stay with your fire until it is completely out.
The old saying is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I urge residents to do their part when burning to protect our natural resourc