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Burn ban and smoke alerts in effect across Western North Carolina

City of Asheville

A burn ban is in effect in Buncombe County until Friday, March 10 at noon.  A statement from the Fire Marshall’s office says the combination of low humidity and windy conditions triggered the action.  The measure means burning of yard waste, debris or land clearing is prohibited. The prohibition does not include fires contained in a pit, barbecue grill, or chiminea device smaller than three feet in diameter. 

Residents may see smoke coming from prescribed burns across the region,  including one earlier this week in Transylvania county in the DuPont State Recreational Forest.   An update on the Forest Service website  says Big Rock Trail, Cedar Rock Trail, and Little River Trail are open, but users may encounter smoke and/or rangers monitoring the prescribed burn for the next few days.   

In Jackson County, the Nantahala Ranger District planned to conduct a 700-acre prescribed burn on Wednesday within the Caney Fork area. 

Forest officials say prescribed burning is an important forest management tool that can mimic natural fire disturbances and reduce underbrush and flammable vegetation, which is key to limiting wildfire risk.

North Carolina’s spring wildfire season runs from March to May, and the N.C. Forest Service is urging residents to practice caution and prioritize safety when burning leaves, limbs and other yard waste. Find more fire safety tips here.

According to the N.C Forest Service, in 2022, nearly 6,400 wildfires burned more than 27,000 acres across the state. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, North Carolina ranked third in the nation for number of human-caused wildfires with 99% of wildfires in the state resulting from human activity. Escaped outdoor fires continue to be the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina. 

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.