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Are backyard fires still OK? Here’s what NC’s burn ban means for the Charlotte area

·3 min read

Mecklenburg County residents can get cozy around a fire outdoors despite a statewide burn ban issued as dry weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires, officials said.

The North Carolina Forest Service on Monday banned the burning of leaves, branches or other plant material until further notice. A wildfire at Pilot Mountain State Park north of Winston-Salem prompted the ban as fire crews fight to contain it through the windy and dry weather.

All burning permits also have been canceled statewide.

While the ban prevents residents from burning the last-of-the-fall leaves on the ground, it won’t stop them from gathering around a warm fire.

The ban doesn’t apply to fires within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling, the forest service said. Local government agencies have jurisdiction over those fires.

Firepits and outdoor fireplaces are fine as long as safety precautions — such as a protective screen or an extinguishing method — are in place, the Huntersville Fire Department said in a tweet on Tuesday. All other open burning is prohibited.

@MeckCounty is following the same guidelines as stated in the State ban,” the tweet said.

Neither Mecklenburg County nor the City of Charlotte have announced a local ban on open fires close to occupied structures.

“This is a statewide burn ban! Let’s all do our part to protect life, property, and forestland,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management agency tweeted Monday.

In Charlotte, recreational fires are allowed for “pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth or similar purposes,” according to the fire department. However, fires must be at least 25 feet from structures and other combustible materials. Burning household trash, yard waste or construction materials is prohibited.

The North Carolina Forest Service banned open burning, including campfires, across the state on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. The move comes as fire teams struggle to contain a fire at a state park amid dry and windy conditions. The ban does not apply to some fires within 100 feet of occupied dwellings.
The North Carolina Forest Service banned open burning, including campfires, across the state on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. The move comes as fire teams struggle to contain a fire at a state park amid dry and windy conditions. The ban does not apply to some fires within 100 feet of occupied dwellings.

Campfires also are banned, but grills or portable gas stoves can still be used if no other local ordinances prohibit them, the forest service said.

The burning of trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics, or other non-vegetative materials is illegal, according to the state agency.

In Cabarrus County, the City of Concord’s fire marshal’s office on Tuesday banned fires within 100 feet of a structure.

Like the statewide ban, any previously issued burning permits are now invalid and “fires should be extinguished immediately,” according to a release from the city. This includes any outdoor burning at a residence.

NC is under a statewide burn ban. Does that include your backyard fire pit?

Anyone in violation of the ban could receive a citation or fine, the marshal’s office said. The issuance of new burning permits has also been suspended.

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