NC Commissioner Troxler: Spring Wildfire Season

With the arrival of spring wildfire season, residents should take care when burning outdoors and secure a burn permit.

  • We talk about wildfires a lot in North Carolina and for good reason.
  • We are blessed with many acres of forestland across the state. I would even say the state’s green, lush tree canopy is one of its most defining features.  
  • But any people may not realize North Carolina ranks first in the country in the number of Wildland Urban Interface acres.
  • This is the area where homes and communities meet and mix with undeveloped wildland vegetation.
  • In North Carolina, roughly 40 % of our 33 million plus acres are in the Wildland Urban Interface.
  • We are fourth in the country in the number of homes (over 2.2 million or 51.9 %) that fall in this same area. And we are fourth in the country in the number of people in this area as well. (Over 4.8 million or 50.7%)
  • We see examples every year in places like California, Oregon and even Hawaii of the damage to homes and lives when wildfires break out.
  • It’s why we try to be proactive in warning people to be careful when burning and warning them when conditions are not good for burning. It’s why I talk about this with listeners every year.
  • March is the official start of the Spring wildfire season. We have already had a number of wildfires reported this year. Thankfully, those have been smaller and were quickly brought under control.
  • We know that people have already been working in their yards and more will continue to get out and do yard work as the weather warms up.
  • It’s a good reminder for residents to use caution with all outdoor fires, especially the burning of yard debris.
  • In 2023, the N.C. Forest Service responded to more than 5,300 wildfires across North Carolina.
  • Escaped debris burns were the leading cause of these fires. In fact, 99% of wildfires in our state last year were directly related to human activity.
  • That just means that most of our wildfires could have been prevented.
  • If you are planning to burn, do your homework and be prepared.
  • Before you burn, make sure you have a valid burn permit, check the weather and avoid burning on dry, windy days.
  • The Forest Service’s county rangers are a great resource and can provide guidance about when, where and how to burn safely outdoors. Contact your local NCFS county ranger’s office before starting an outdoor fire.