A forest fire that began on November 27, 2021 surrounded Pilot Mountain northwest of Winston-Salem. [courtesy R.D. Hill]

Due to the increased fire risk, the NC Forest Service has banned all open burning and has canceled all burning permits statewide until further notice.

The move comes as moderate drought conditions continue to set in from central North Carolina to the Outer Banks, with minimal rainfall recently.

This increases the threat of forest fires, especially the dry and windy days that have been common this fall.

The number of wildfires has increased dramatically over the past two weeks in North Carolina, including one that has burned about 400 acres of Pilot Mountain State Park northwest of Winston-Salem since Saturday.

“It’s fall wildfire season in North Carolina, and we are seeing an increase in wildfire activity due to the dry conditions,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “With these conditions ongoing, a statewide burning ban is needed to reduce the risk of fire and rapid spread. Our top priority remains to protect lives, property and forest lands across the state. “

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits open burning in affected counties, whether or not a permit has already been issued. The issuance of any new permits was also suspended until the ban was lifted. Anyone who violates the burning ban faces a fine of $ 100 and court costs of $ 183. Anyone responsible for starting a fire can be held responsible for the costs of extinguishing the fire.

Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are helping the North Carolina Forest Service enforce the burn ban.

The NC Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions. Residents who have questions regarding a specific county can contact their NC Forest Service County Ranger or their county Fire Marshal’s office.

NC Forest Service Burn Ban FAQs:

Q: What is surface engraving?

A: Open burning includes the burning of leaves, branches or other plant material. In any case, burning garbage, wood, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-plant material is illegal.

Q: Can I still use my grill or barbecue?

A: Yes, if no other local ordinance prohibits their use.

Q: How do I report a forest fire?

A: Call 911 to report a forest fire.

Q: How do I report someone who intentionally starts a forest fire?

A: Call 911 to report a forest fire.

Q: My local fire marshal has also issued a burning ban for my county. What does it mean?
A: The NC Forest Service burning ban does not apply to a fire within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Local government agencies have jurisdiction over open burning within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. The NC Forest Service has notified county fire marshals of the burn ban and asked them to consider implementing a burn ban as well. If a fire within 100 feet of a home escapes containment, a North Carolina ranger can take reasonable steps to extinguish or control it. The person responsible for the fire can be held responsible for all costs associated with extinguishing the fire.

Q: Are there other cases that impact open engraving?

A: Local ordinances and air quality regulations may impact open burning. For example, outdoor burning is prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts. Learn more about the air quality forecast at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/air-quality/air-quality-outreach-education/air-quality-forecast.

Q: Can I have a campfire when I am camping?

A: Campfires would be considered open fires and are not exempt from the burning ban. During a burning ban, portable gas stoves or grills are alternative methods of cooking food while camping.

Q: What can I do to protect my home from the risk of wildfire?

A: Learn more about forest fire risk assessments and preparedness and prevention plans on the NC Forest Service website at https://www.ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_wui.htm or https://www.resistwildfirenc.org/.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read more local stories here.