RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Dry, windy weather is a recipe for disaster when it comes to fire danger and unfortunately, those conditions were in place again Wednesday.
So far this year, 3,500 acres have already burned due to wildfires in North Carolina, including the one that burned more than 300 acres in Cumberland County at the beginning of March.
Philip Jackson with the North Carolina Forest Service says with conditions like this, it doesn’t take much for wildfires to get out of control.
“As the weather patterns transition from the cooler temperatures to the warmer temperatures, fire environment and fuel conditions are a perfect storm for wildfires,” he explained.
He says last year North Carolina had 6,400 wildfires that burned more than 24,000 acres, but 99 percent of those fires in some way were caused by humans. In fact, North Carolina ranked third in the country in 2022 for the number of human-caused wildfires.
Careless burning, abandoned campfires and cigarette butts are all common fire starters. So how can you burn responsibly?
“You obviously want to look at the weather and to avoid burning on dry, windy days where relative humidity is lower because those are the perfect conditions for not only ignition but also rapid spread,” Jackson said.
On top of using common sense, you also need a permit to burn natural debris. You can find information on how to do that here.
If you are burning and the fire gets out of control, do not wait to call for help.
“Keep your phone on you, because if that fire pushes beyond whatever lines you had in place or gets out of control or escapes the area you were burning in, you’ll want to call 911,” Jackson explained.
It’s also important to keep a bucket of water or hose close by, in addition to a shovel to help smother the fire. Jackson also says if you have a drone do not fly it over an active wildfire. Not only is it illegal, it can inhibit the work forest and fire officials do to actually put out the fire.
If you want more information on spring wildfire season and fire safety click here.