Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler banned open burning and canceled all burning permits for 22 more counties — including Anson — in western North Carolina on Monday.
In addition to Anson, Alleghany, Ashe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Wilkes and Yadkin counties were added to the list.
The burning ban took effect at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21, and will be in effect until further notice.
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 also has been suspended until the ban is lifted.
Violation of the ban carries a $100 fine plus court costs of $180.
The ban on open burning is necessary because of the dry weather conditions and the potential for the increase in human-caused wildfires in the region. As of Nov. 20, there have been 3,021 wildfires affecting more than 19,058 acres on state protected lands across North Carolina this year. In the mountains alone, there have been 1,203 fires that have burned 4,015 acres.
Those numbers do not include fires burning on federal lands, the Party Rock fire near Lake Lure and the Chestnut Knob fire. The Party Rock fire has burned 7,171 acres since it was first reported on Nov. 5. The Chestnut Knob fire, burning in the South Mountain State Park, has burned 6,433 acres since it was first reported on Nov. 6. These fires, combined with those on federal lands, have burned closed to 46,000 acres in western North Carolina. State protected lands include state and private owned properties.
“Fire experts with the N.C. Forest Service feel the current drought situation and the increase in available forest fuels makes it necessary to increase the number of counties under the burn ban,” Troxler said. “We want to be proactive in our approach and take appropriate action to prevent the potential for human-caused wildfires.”
An open burn ban is now in place for the entire counties of Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.
The Anson County Fire Marshal has also issued burning ban on outdoor burning within 100 feet of a structure. During this ban, no open burning shall be conducted at all within 100 feet of a structure; this includes any outdoor burning at residences.
No burning permits will be issued until the burning ban is lifted and no open burning will be allowed.
Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn
Those with questions may contact Brian R. Haines at 919-857-4828. Residents with questions can contact their county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service at 704-848-4705 or the Anson County Fire Marshal’s office at 704-994-3272.