The state agriculture commissioner has broadened an open burning ban to 22 more counties in western North Carolina, including Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.
Mecklenburg’s fire marshal had already banned outdoor burning, including recreational fires, and canceled burning permits on Thursday. Mecklenburg County was added last week to a growing list of counties in drought.
The state ban also includes Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. The ban was previously imposed in 25 counties.
Wildfires have torched the tinder-dry mountains this fall. Fifteen fires that are still burning in western counties have engulfed 52,000 acres. Another 19,000 acres have burned on state-protected lands.
The state ban does not apply to cooking fires such as grills or outdoor cookers.