Forest Service agencies urge caution during fall wildfire season

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – With the autumn seasonal activities starting, the USDA Forest Services and N.C. Forest Service reminds everyone of fire safety.

WITN is told that the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina is escaped fires from backyard burnings. There were 6,887 cases of wildfires in the past year, and only 1% were caused naturally by things like lightning.

“Fall weather and the beautiful changing foliage in North Carolina draws people outdoors to take in activities such as camping, hiking, or working in their yards to dispose of leaves and other yard debris,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “When choosing to build a campfire, grill out in your yard or eliminate leaves by burning, it is important that you remain vigilant and safe with any outdoor fire to protect our forests. You are our best defense against wildfires.”

The N.C. Forest Services offers Eastern Carolina residents the following fire-safety tips:

  • Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burn permit at any N.C. Forest Service office or authorized permitting agent, or online here.
  • Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
  • Keep your fire small, not tall.
  • Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a hose, bucket, steel rake, and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby, too.
  • Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel, or other flammable liquids to speed up burning.
  • ·Douse burning charcoal briquettes or campfires thoroughly with water. Drown all embers, not just the red ones. When soaked, stir the coals and soak them again. Make sure everything is wet and that the embers are cold to the touch. If you do not have water, mix enough dirt or sand with the embers to extinguish the fire, being careful not to bury the fire. Never dump hot ashes or coals into a wooded area.
  • Never leave your fire. Stay with it until it is completely out.

And the USDA Forest Services shared the following tips on how to extinguish a campfire properly:

  • Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
  • Pour lots of water on the fire, and drown ALL embers, not just the red ones.
  • Pour until the hissing sound stops.
  • Stir campfire ashes and embers with a shovel.
  • Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers.
  • Stir and make sure everything is wet and that the embers are cold to the touch.
  • If you do not have water, use dirt. Pour dirt or sand into the fire, mixing enough dirt or sand with the embers to extinguish the fire.
  • Continue adding or stirring until all remaining material is cool.
  • Do NOT bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.

To learn more about fire safety and preventing wildfires and loss of property, visit and

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