Friday, 28 May 2021 13:13

Fireworks prohibited in Richmond, other counties under burn ban

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Fireworks prohibited in Richmond, other counties under burn ban RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Fireworks are off limits for Memorial Day weekend in Richmond and more than 20 other counties across the state due to a burn ban that went into effect earlier this week.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced in a press release Friday afternoon that fireworks are restricted in the 26 counties that fall under the ban issued Monday.

The ban prohibits fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices as nearly half the state is in moderate drought status with little rain in the forecast.

It hasn’t rained in Richmond County, aside from a few sprinkles, in about three weeks.

“Fireworks and holiday weekends are often enjoyed together, but using fireworks during a drought can be disastrous,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. “Forest Service personnel are already battling multiple wildfires, some new and others ongoing, in southeastern North Carolina. There is a little bit of rain in the forecast, and we’ll keep an eye on that, looking for significant improvement in those drought conditions. Until then, fireworks are not a risk we can take in those 26 counties currently under the burn ban, and we strongly urge anyone outside those counties to think twice about using fireworks this weekend.”

The ban cancels all burning permits and prohibits open burning until further notice in the following counties: Anson, Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and  Wayne.

According to a press release, the N.C. Forest Service has responded to more than 70 wildfires — some in the counties under the ban.

District 3, which includes Richmond County, had seven fires to burn 1.3 acres on Thursday, according to the Forest Service. The most acreage was burned in District 6, just to the east — Cumberland, Hoke, Harnett, Johnston, Robeson and Sampson — as five fires burned 9.5 acres.

There were 31 total fires on state and private land Thursday.

“When drought expands across the state, we have more fires,” State Forester David Lane said this week during his visit to the N.C. Forest Service incident command post in Lumberton. “We’re working multiple fires in our southernmost counties. By the time we get one out cold, we have several new fires pop up. We need residents to take precautions and to be vigilant in preventing wildfires.”

Records show there have been 567 fires to burn 3,130 acres this month, and 2,597 fires to burn 8,171.6 acres so far this year.

County Ranger Jack Franklin said Friday that things have been “eerily quiet” since last week’s 100-acre fire in Gum Swamp, off of Cognac Road.

Franklin said he has issued one citation since the burn ban went into effect, that was to someone burning a pile of leaves on Broad Street in East Rockingham.

The ban does not apply to fires within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling. Those fires must be confined within an enclosure to keep burning material from escaping.

Franklin added that crews from the mountains are on stand-by for this district in anticipation of possible fires this weekend.