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Lincoln County imposes ban on burning

As drought conditions continue, the Lincoln County Fire Marshal’s Office and North Carolina Forest Service have ordered a ban on burning materials in Lincoln County.
“We are so extremely dry that even some of the counties around that are having fires, are just using large quantities of water,” said Director of Emergency Management Susan Spake. “With us being under mandatory water restrictions, this should go hand-in-hand with that.”
At noon Tuesday, the state`s Forest Service enacted its own ban on permits for fires across all of North Carolina, including Lincoln County.
There will be a complete burning ban until water restrictions have been lifted by the Lincoln County Public Utilities, officials said.
The ban includes no open flames, no burning of leaves or trash or any type of burning.
Lincoln’s Forest Service ranger, Elizabeth Snyder, said the county had two fires in the last week that burned 3 acres.
“People who let a fire escape will get a ticket,” Snyder said.
Snyder said tickets range from $120-$150.
“The problem now is that it takes a lot of work to do the mop-up on the fire,” she said.
Spake said the ban follows the mandatory water restriction issued Aug. 13.
“There doesn’t seem to be any forecast of any rain in the short future,” Spake said. “We’ve had some brush fires. This is a good opportunity for people to haul their cuttings and tree limbs to the landfill instead of trying to burn them. It’s already hot, it makes an air quality issue for their neighbors.”
Spake said there are a lot of calls of smoke in the air bothering the neighbors and the heat just compounds that.
“If we ask people not to wash their cars or water their lawns, if they are burning they’re using water,” Spake said. “It’s something that should go hand-in-hand with water restrictions.”
The restrictions state that it is unlawful for any person to use water from the Lincoln County water system to:
· Water lawns, gardens or shrubs with a handheld hose
· Fill newly constructed swimming pools or refill drained pools
· Wash cars, boats or any mobile equipment
· Wash streets, parking lots, windows or buildings
· Use water from fire hydrants for any purpose other than fire fighting
· Serve drinking water in restaurants
· Operate water-cooled air conditioners
· To use water for any unnecessary purpose or intentionally waste water
The goal for the water shortage is to reduce water usage by 5-10 percent from a normal level.
“We’ve gone so long without water, just small water on people’s lawn isn’t going to help. We’re going to need a good soaking,” Spake said. “What we’re starting to see is people’s shrubs starting to die, because it is so dry. It just makes common sense that we shouldn’t be burning.”
There are no water restrictions for Lincolnton at this time, according to the Office of Public Works and Utilities.
Staff Writer Olin Ericksen contributed to this article.
by Maribeth Kiser

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