Burn ban issued by N.C. Forest Service in western part of the state on Sunday

Published 1:08 pm Sunday, November 5, 2023

Ban comes after Polk County, Town of Tryon prohibit outdoor burning during current drought

POLK COUNTY—A burn ban in 14 western North Carolina counties, including Polk County, was issued by the N.C. Forest Service on Sunday and will remain in effect until further notice.

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning outdoors of any type in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted. Anyone violating the burn ban faces a $100 fine plus $183 court costs, and any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire.

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“Several counties in Western North Carolina are currently in a severe drought, and we are seeing wildfire activity increase due to dry conditions. Because dry conditions are expected to continue this burn ban is necessary to reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading quickly. Our top priority is always to protect lives, property and forestland across the state,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Even though not all areas of North Carolina fall under the burn ban, we do encourage extreme caution with any burning as conditions are dry in many areas of the state. We will continue to assess conditions in the coming weeks to determine if we need to expand the burn ban.”

A county-wide burn ban was issued earlier in the day by Polk County Fire Marshall Bobby Arledge and Fire Chief Josh Walton of the Tryon Fire Department, banning outdoor fires within 100 feet of a structure, including burn pits.

Polk County is one of 14 counties in the state currently experiencing severe drought conditions. According to the NC Drought Management Advisory Council, all sections of the county are seeing severe drought conditions due to lack of rain recently and low humidity. Other western NC counties experiencing severe drought conditions include Rutherford, McDowell, Transylvania and Henderson counties.

A 250-acre brush fire in the Edneyville area of Henderson County was only 5% contained as of Sunday morning, and Polk County fire crews have been assisting to fight the blaze. Air quality alerts were issued in our area due to the smoke from the wildfire and haziness has been visible over Tryon, Saluda and Columbus.

Rainfall deficits of 4 to 10 inches have developed in western North Carolina since the beginning of September, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s website.

“This is one of the top five driest September and October periods on record for much of western North Carolina,” said Corey Davis, assistant state climatologist with the NC State Climate Office.