LUMBERTON — Because of dry weather conditions, a statewide burn ban went into effect Monday at 5 p.m.
“It is fall wildfire season in North Carolina, and we are seeing wildfire activity increase due to dry conditions,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in a prepared statement. “With these ongoing conditions, a statewide 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.”
The issuing of burn permits also has been suspended while the ban remains in place, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The burn ban in Robeson County was announced Monday afternoon through a CODE RED automated message sent out to people enrolled in the county’s notification system.
Conditions haven’t really improved since the last burn ban in Robeson County which was lifted in June, according to Robeson County Ranger Robert Freeman.
Rangers have responded to at least 200 fires since July 1, Freeman said. The number doesn’t include fires that volunteer fire departments responded to.
“We normally have 200 (fires) a year,” he said.
Freeman urges Robesonians to obey the burn ban. Failure to abide by the ban could lead to a $100 fine plus court costs.
“Any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire. Local fire departments and law enforcement officers are assisting the N.C. Forest Service in enforcing the burn ban,” according to NCDA&CS.
“Due to low humidity, winds and dry vegetation, increased fire danger exists for most of the state. Postpone any outdoor burning, especially across the Mountains, Piedmont and Sandhills,” the N.C. Forest Service said in a Monday statement on its Facebook page.
Robeson County is among 49 counties listed in moderate drought conditions, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.
The NCDMA shared guidelines for areas within the moderate drought designation.
“Assess your vulnerability to the drought conditions and adjust water usage to prolong available supply,” according to the advisory on ncdrought.org.
“Inspect water delivery system components (e.g. irrigation lines, fixtures, processing equipment, water system lines, etc.), repair leaks and ensure that existing equipment is operating as efficiently as possible,” the NCDMA stated.
The NCDMA also encourages residents to “minimize nonessential” water usage.
In addition to the moderate drought conditions, 29 counties were listed as abnormally dry. Among those counties are Brunswick, Guilford, New Hanover, Rockingham, Richmond and others.
“It is important to be very fire cautious in times of drought and high winds,” said Lumberton Fire Chief Chris West.
North Carolina’s Weather Authority shared an update on Facebook stating that Pilot Mountain’s wildfire had spread to more than 500 acres as of noon Monday.
“Today planes will attempt to help control the fire; unfortunately, gusty winds and dry weather will not help,” the NCWA wrote.
To sign up for CODE RED, visit Robeson County’s website and click on the CODE RED sign up option at the bottom of the page.
“The N.C. Forest Service will continue to monitor conditions. Residents with questions regarding a specific county can contact their N.C. Forest Service county ranger or their county fire marshal’s office,” according to NCDA&CS.
Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]