Updated Nov. 29
With fire weather conditions improving, Buncombe County’s open burning ban will be lifted as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30.
“While drought conditions have not changed, the forecasted weather pattern will not be favorable for fire spread and development,” says Buncombe County Fire Marshal Kevin Tipton. The local forecast is calling for a pattern of receiving moisture, humidity levels not below 50%, and calm or very light winds. Tipton advises residents to be overly cautious while burning and stresses that all fires must be constantly attended until completely out or extinguished. Click here to see recent updates to Buncombe County’s fire protection and prevention ordinance.
Outdoor fire safety
Outdoor fire safety starts with obeying local burn bans and fire restrictions. It is always a good idea to keep your home as fireproof as possible by cleaning up around your house to make a defensible space from wildfire through activities such as mowing the lawn, removing debris from the roof and gutters, clearing a five-foot perimeter around your home free of flammable materials, as well as limbing trees and shrubs.
Sign up for local emergency notifications to receive timely information. In the event of an emergency, Buncombe County will utilize its CodeRED text messaging system to communicate with residents. To receive alerts, text “BCAlert” to 99411 or go to buncombecounty.org/codered to sign up.
Update Nov. 22
Due to recent rainfall in our area, decreasing wind speeds, and higher humidity, the Local State of Emergency issued for Buncombe County on Nov. 6 is terminated effective Thursday, Nov. 23 at 8 a.m. The Local State of Emergency is also terminated in the municipal limits of the City of Asheville, Town of Weaverville, Town of Woodfin, Town of Montreat, and the Town of Biltmore Forest. The Town of Black Mountain remains under a Local State of Emergency.
The termination of the Local State of Emergency does not affect any open burning restrictions put in place by the Buncombe County Fire Marshal pursuant to the Buncombe County Fire Prevention and Protection Ordinance contained in Chapter 30 of the Buncombe County Code of Ordinances.
Food preparation and cooking fires have not been included in any ban issued. This includes grills, smokers, and turkey fryers. All leaf, debris, yard waste, and land clearing burns remain under an open burning ban under the Fire Prevention Ordinance. While the Forest Service has lifted their bans on open burning in Western North Carolina effective for 5 p.m. today, our local ban remains in place and takes precedence over the Forest Service actions.
The ban on outdoor recreational fires contained in rings, pits, chimenea devices, outdoor fireplaces, and stoves is lifted effective Thursday, Nov. 23 at 8 a.m. Importantly, fires must be contained, constantly attended, and smaller than three feet in diameter and height.
While the burn ban has been relaxed, the Buncombe County Fire Marshal would like to remind the community of the importance of fire safety in and around the house. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires in residential buildings occurred more often on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year.
Reduce your risk of a Thanksgiving fiasco with simple steps inside and outside of the home. Fire safety officials advise the community to abide by these fire prevention steps:
- Never leave your stove unattended. Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher nearby and ensure that it is the correct type of fire extinguisher and how to properly use it.
- Never try to put out a grease fire with water. Instead, smother it by sliding a lid over the pan, turn off the stovetop, and leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled. In case of oven or microwave fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed until the flames are completely out. If you cannot safely extinguish a fire, get outside quickly, close the door behind you to contain the fire, and call 9-1-1.
- Turkey fryers can be especially dangerous if not handled correctly. When using a turkey fryer, it is important to take extreme caution to avoid any fire hazards.
- Keep the turkey fryer at least 10 feet away from your home and not under roof eaves. Ensure that the fryer is on a sturdy, level surface and do not move it once it is in use.
- Test the amount of oil you need by filling your fryer with water. Place the turkey in the pot making sure the water doesn’t get too close to the top. Measure the water and use that as a guide for filling the pot with oil.
- Ensure that your turkey is fully thawed without frost on it before you fry it. A partially frozen turkey will cause cooking oil to splatter when you put it in the cooking pot.
- Use a kitchen thermometer that attaches to the side of the pot if your turkey fryer does not have a thermostat. This will help you monitor the temperature of the oil and prevent overheating, which can lead to a fire.
Outdoor fire safety
Outdoor fire safety starts with obeying local burn bans and fire restrictions. While outdoor recreational fires contained in fire rings, pits, chimenea devices, outdoor fireplaces, and stoves are allowed, fires must be contained, constantly attended, and smaller than three feet in diameter and height. The burn ban still applies to all leaf, debris, yard waste, and land clearing burns. It is always a good idea to keep your home as fireproof as possible by cleaning up around your house to make a defensible space from wildfire through activities such as mowing the lawn, removing debris from the rood and gutters, clearing a 5-foot perimeter around your home free of flammable materials as well as limbing trees and shrubs.
Sign up for local emergency notifications to receive timely information. In the event of an emergency, Buncombe County will utilize its CodeRED text messaging system to communicate with residents. To receive alerts, text “BCAlert” to 99411 or go to buncombecounty.org/codered.
Update Nov. 15
As wildfires continue to pop up in Western North Carolina and local conditions remain high for extreme fire danger, Buncombe County remains under a State of Emergency with a burn ban in effect. This burn ban is being enforced – no burning is allowed in Buncombe County or in any of its municipalities, even if it is raining. Under this State of Emergency, all outdoor burning is prohibited, including fire pits, campfires, tiki torches, and chimineas. Only the preparation of food using outdoor grills is allowed. To report illegal burning, please call 911.
Buncombe County GIS has developed a map layer for tracking wildfires. This wildfire layer provides a near real-time view of the data being shared through the Integrated Reporting of Wildland-Fire Information (IRWIN) service. IRWIN provides data exchange capabilities between participating wildfire systems, including federal, state, and local agencies. Data is synchronized across participating organizations to make sure the most current information is available. The display of the points is based on the NWCG Fire Size Classification applied to the daily acres attribute.
You can find this map at https://bunco.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=8339a4a7b0d14dd6b6538a5053c856d0.
Update Nov. 8
The NC Forest Service has canceled all burning permits and prohibits all open burning for the entire counties of Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell, Catawba, Haywood, Iredell, Lincoln, Madison, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. This ban on open burning is effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, and shall remain in effect until further notice. The Forest Service notice is attached below.
Buncombe County has issued a state of emergency banning burning effective at 12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6 due to the extreme risk of fire. The declaration applies within the municipal limits of the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the town of Woodfin, the Town of Black Mountain, the Town of Montreat, and the Town of Biltmore Forest. This declaration activates emergency management plans and allows personnel to be mobilized and positioned to reduce the vulnerability of people and property to damage, injury and loss of life while preparing for property and efficient rescue, care, and treatment of threated or affected persons. The declaration also provides for cooperation and coordination of activities relating to emergency mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery with other county agencies, state and federal governments, with interstate organizations, and with other private and quasi-official organizations. The state of emergency will continue until emergency service officials advise the County otherwise.
Under the state of emergency, all outdoor burning is prohibited, including fire pits, campfires, tiki torches, and chimineas. Only the preparation of food using outdoor grills is allowed.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, research points to embers and small flames as the main way that most homes ignite in wildfires. Embers are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind, causing spot fires and igniting homes, debris, and other objects. To learn how to protect your home, visit www.nfpa.org/firewise.
Smoke from surrounding areas is impacting local air quality. Monday, Nov. 6 is a code yellow air quality forecast day for the valleys and northern ridge tops of Asheville and Buncombe County. Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor activities. For the southern ridge tops, it is a code orange air quality forecast day. Air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups. Children, active adults, and those with heart or respiratory disease, including asthma, should limit outdoor activity. To view current air quality conditions, visit www.airnow.gov and for more details on fire and smoke, https://fire.airnow.gov/.
In the event of an emergency, Buncombe County will utilize its Code Red text messaging system to communicate with residents. To receive alerts, text “BCAlert” to 99411 or go to www.buncombecounty.org/codered.
Residents are encouraged to develop safety plans, not just for fires, but for other emergencies. To download a sample safety plan, visit readync.gov. Experts also recommend creating a “go kit” with medications, important bank documents, social security cards, insurance policies, water, food, pet supplies, and more. For insurance purposes, take photos or videos of personal belongings.
To report a fire or illegal burn, call 911. For more information on the emergency declaration, go to www.buncombecounty.org.