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It's March, which officially marks the start of North Carolina's wildfire season

A fire at Carolina beach.
North Carolina State Parks and Recreation
A fire at Carolina beach.

North Carolina Forest Service officials are asking residents across the state to be more cautious when burning yard debris to prevent wildfires this month.

The Tar Heel State has two wildfire seasons: spring and fall. The spring period starts in March and runs through May, and the fall period runs from October to December.

Philip Jackson, a spokesperson for the state Forest Service, said sometimes people don't realize how great the risk of wildfire is.

“So, when we say human-caused, and directly related to human activity, the majority of those fires are a result of careless debris burning," Jackson said. “Whether that's a campfire that's been left unattended, before it was completely out, or just folks getting rid of yard vegetation.”

Jackson recommends not burning yard debris during windy days and to always be prepared by keeping a hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel close by to put out the fire. While it's illegal to burn trash or anything other than natural vegetation, North Carolina residents must obtain a valid burn permit. Those are available in all 100 counties at the North Carolina Forest Service offices.

From 2020 to 2022, nearly 62,000 wildfires happened in the state, burning more than 24,000 acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Jackson said wildfires can threaten property, lives, and are extremely expensive.

“Due to North Carolina’s unique terrain, it can be costly to use special equipment to bring water to an area that doesn’t have it or adding people to crews staying overnight to help put out wildfires,” Jackson said.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, North Carolina third in the nation for wildfires caused by human-related activity.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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