Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests. These dangerous fires spread quickly and can devastate not only wildlife and natural areas, but also communities. wildfires can travel and burn a football field per second, and they are even more dangerous when they are close to homes and businesses. They can spread quickly if care is not taken when burning debris.  Learn more about fire safety from New Hanover County Fire/Rescue.

Careless debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina.  If you live in the unincorporated areas of New Hanover County, materials like wood, paper, trash, and yard debris can be burned in your backyard. You must have a permit, and make sure there is no active burn ban in place.   Visit the North Carolina Fire Service web page for information on getting a burn permit and for the status of burn bans in the County.

 There is NO open burning allowed inside the city limits of Wilmington.  Visit the Wilmington Fire Department's web page for more information.

Learn Before You Burn

  • Check the weather conditions. Don't burn when it is windy, very dry, or there is a burn ban in place.
  • Make sure you have the proper permits in place and in hand.
  • Do not burn household trash, plastic, or tires.  When permitted, only burn dry, natural vegetation grown on your property.
  • Look up! Choose a safe burning site away from powerlines, overhanging limbs, buildings, vehicles, and equipment.  You need at least three times the height of the pile of vertical clearance.
  • Look around! The site should be surrounded by gravel or mineral soil (dirt) at least 10 feet in all directions.  Keep the surroundings watered down during the burn, and have a shovel close by.
  • Prepare your pile. Keep your piles small and manageable.  Add additional debris as outlined in your permit as the fire burns down.
  • If using a burn barrel, make sure it is made entirely of metal, properly equipped with at least three evenly-spaced three-inch screened vents and a metal top screen) and in good condition.
  • ALWAYS stay with your fire until it is completely out.  Drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel, and drown it again.  Repeat this several times.
  • Check the burn area regularly over the next several days, ESPECIALLY if the weather is warm, dry, and windy.