Burn ban in place as ‘flash drought’ conditions persist In NENC

By on June 3, 2019

The risk is high for uncontained fires. (N.C. Forest Service)

A ban on opern burning and beach fires is in place as dry conditions described by meterologists as a “flash drought” continue throughout the region.

Thirty counties in the eastern and central part of the state are abnormally dry, according to the Department of Environmental Quality. Of those, 10 are considered to be in a moderate drought.

Moderate drought, which is the least severe of the four drought categories, stretches from Columbus to Pamlico counties.

“Drought conditions have quickly returned to eastern North Carolina due to a high-pressure system persisting off the east coast, locking in above average temperatures and dry conditions,” Darrian Bertrand of the N.C. State Climate Office said in a statement.

“This pattern has emerged earlier in the year than is typical, quickly drying out soils. Much of eastern North Carolina is 3-inches below normal in rainfall for the month of May and with another dry week ahead, conditions will likely worsen.”

On Friday, the National Park Service declared a ban on beach fires to prevent the possible spread of flames to dune grasses, nearby wooded areas and oceanfront neighborhoods.

“Beach fire permits may be used in appropriate locations once the ban is lifted,” a Park Service statement said. “In designated campgrounds, charcoal and gas grills may continue to be used; however, grills may not be used for open wood fires.

As a reminder, fireworks are not permitted in any area of the Seashore. Visitors are reminded to properly dispose of cigarettes and avoid parking cars outside of designated parking areas, where hot mufflers may ignite tall dry vegetation, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Forest Service has issued a ban on all open fires in Dare and Hyde counties

The burning ban goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, 2019, and will remain in effect until further notice, ac Forest Service statement said.

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted. Violating the burn ban incurs a $100 fine plus $180 court costs. The person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for reimbursing the N.C. Forest Service for any expenses related to extinguishing it.

“The dry weather conditions these last few weeks, plus the potential for an increase in human-caused wildfires in the region, makes this ban on open burning necessary,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “During the month of May, there have been 355 wildfires statewide, covering 1,348 acres. This burn ban is a proactive step to protect lives and property by preventing human-caused wildfires.”

Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban.

From The Outer Banks Voice, Coastal Review Online and the Island Free Press.

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