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Fire danger increasing in western North Carolina

ASHEVILLE —  The U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are warning the public of increasing fire danger in western North Carolina.
Last weekend’s rainfall was not widespread and not enough to alleviate the dry conditions and persistent drought that has resulted from low rainfall in the past few months. Fuels in the forest will readily burn if ignited. Fire danger is predicted to remain high for the rest of October and into December.
Both agencies would like to remind the public to use caution in any outdoor burning. Even when burn-bans are not in effect, conditions may not be advisable for outdoor fires. The public is discouraged from burning yard waste during periods of low humidity or high winds.
For people who choose to burn debris, the N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips to protect property and prevent wildfires:
* Always consider alternatives to burning.
* Obtain a burning permit at an NCFS office or online at http://ncforestservice.gov/burn_permits/burn_permits_main.htm
* Check the weather – don’t burn on dry, windy days.
* Know your local burning laws.
* Be prepared with water, a shovel and phone.
* Stay with your fire until it is completely out.
Studies have shown that taking these and other measures can greatly reduce wildfires and the loss of property associated with them. Take time now to prepare your home against wildfires. Tips on protecting your property can be found at www.firewise.org.
Additionally, campfires can be a source of wildfires. Follow these guidelines to help prevent wildfires:
* Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible
* Pour lots of water on the fire, drown ALL embers, not just the red ones
* Pour until hissing sound stops
* Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel
* Scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers
* Stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch
* If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers.
* Continue adding and stirring until all 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.
Learn more about fire safety at http://ncforestservice.gov/fire_control/fc_firesafetyoutdoors.htm and www.smokeybear.com. Remember…only YOU can prevent wildfires.

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