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Burn ban in effect for 14 Western North Carolina counties

NC Forest Service

A ban on all open burning, including any previously permitted burning, went into effect for 14 Western North Carolina counties on Sunday evening

The ban follows two major wildfires in the west late last week and into the weekend: the Poplar Drive Fire in Edneyville, a small community in Henderson County, covered more than 400 acres, and the Collett Ridge Fire stretched across 90 acres just south of Andrews in Cherokee County.

The North Carolina Forest Service issued the ban for Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania counties effective 5 p.m. on Sunday. The service cited the increased risk of fire due to dry conditions.

“Even though not all areas of the North Carolina fall under the burn ban, we do encourage extreme caution with any burning as conditions are dry in many areas of the state," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in the press release. "We will continue to assess conditions in the coming weeks to determine if we need to expand the burn ban.”

The ban prohibits burning of leaves or other plant material, including campfires. Outdoor grills may still be used unless prohibited by a local ordinance.

The violation of a burn ban could result in a fine of $100 plus $183 court costs. "Any person responsible for setting a fire may be liable for any expenses related to extinguishing the fire," according to the statement.

The ban remains in effect until further notice.