02/10/08 — Forestry officials warn about burning

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Forestry officials warn about burning

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 10, 2008 2:00 AM

RALEIGH -- Officials with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources are warning people to avoid debris burning because of predictions of a dry and windy weekend.

The National Weather Service is calling for the possibility of a red flag warning this weekend due to high winds and low humidity. Red flag warnings are issued by the National Weather Service to call attention to weather conditions that may result in extreme burning conditions.

Red flag warnings are issued in areas that have had little rainfall and meet certain criteria such as high winds that dry out forest fuels. These are the ideal conditions for debris burning to get of control and start a wildfire. Careless debris burning accounts for more than 40 percent of the wildfires in North Carolina and is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in the state.

There were approximately 6,804 fires across the state in 2007 that burned more than 36,873 acres. Many of these fires could have been prevented if people burning debris had heeded warnings not to burn on windy days.

State forestry officials say that if people burn leaves and other vegetative materials they should take precautions because fires can easily escape and become dangerous.

Some important rules to follow if you choose to burn include:

*Open burning may include burning leaves, branches and other plant material. It is illegal to burn trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-vegetative materials.

*Outdoor burning is prohibited in areas covered by Code Orange or Code Red air quality forecasts.

*Make sure you have a valid burning permit. You can obtain a burning permit at any state Division of Forest Resources office, a permitting agent or at www.dfr.state.nc.us <http://www.dfr.state.nc.us/>.

* Follow local laws on debris burning. Some communities allow burning only during specified hours; others forbid it entirely. Check the weather.

*Don't burn on dry, windy days.

*Be prepared before burning. Keep fire tools available. To control a fire, you will need a garden hose, a bucket, a steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed burning. **

* Always stay with the fire until it has been extinguished. **

For more information, call Brian R. Haines, public information officer with the Division of Forest Resources, at (919) 733-2162, ext. 234, or via cell phone at (919) 218-9728.