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Be careful when burning debris

The N.C. Forest Service is urging residents across the state to think safety and exercise caution during the spring fire season, which typically lasts from March to May.

“Burning debris is the No. 1 cause of wildfires,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in a news release. “If you’re thinking about burning debris, contact your county forest ranger first. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to help maximize safety for people, property and the forest.”

During the spring fire season, people do a lot of yard work that often includes burning leaves and yard debris. There are many factors to consider before doing any burning. Following are tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:

• Consider alternatives to burning. Some yard debris, such as leaves and grass, may be more valuable if composted.

• Check with your county fire marshal’s office for local laws on burning debris. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours; others forbid it entirely.

• Make sure you have an approved burning permit, which can be obtained at any NCFS office, county-approved burning permit agent, or online at ncforestservice.gov.

• Check the weather. Don’t burn if conditions are dry or windy.

• Only burn natural vegetation from your property. Burning household trash or any other man-made materials is illegal. Trash should be hauled away to a convenience center.

• Plan burning for the late afternoon when conditions are typically less windy and more humid.

• If you must burn, be prepared. Clear a perimeter around the burn area of flammable materials.

• Keep fire tools ready. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, a steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire.

• Never use flammable liquids such as kerosene, gasoline or diesel fuel to speed burning.

• Stay with your fire until it is completely out. In North Carolina, human carelessness leads to more wildfires than any other cause.

• These same tips hold true for campfires and barbeques, too. 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 cold and carefully feel to be sure they are extinguished. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.

• Burning agricultural residue and forestland litter: In addition to the guidelines above, a fire line should be plowed around the area to be burned. Large fields should be separated into small plots for burning one at a time. Before doing any burning in a wooded area, contact your county ranger, who will weigh all factors, explain them and offer technical advice.

For more information on ways you can prevent wildfires and loss of property, visit ncforestservice.gov.

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