Lake Waccamaw is well known for its private fireworks displays during holiday weekends, but officials hope this year that the skies stay dark and quiet.
Lake Waccamaw Fire Chief Barney Tyler issued a local order earlier this week banning the use of fire pits, burn barrels and fireworks during the Memorial Day weekend. The order is an extension of the burn ban currently in effect for Columbus and 26 other counties.
Use of any pyrotechnic that leaves the ground is against state law without a license, but the law is rarely enforced.
In Whiteville, the fire department is urging residents to use extra caution when grilling. A minimum of three feet of space should be kept clear around outside grills, and children and pets should also be kept away. WFD also urges Memorial Day celebrants to keep a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
The 26-county burn ban enacted May 24 prohibits fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices. With nearly half the state in moderate drought status and little rain in the forecast, N.C. Forest Service officials urge North Carolinians statewide to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary risk with fire.
“Fireworks and holiday weekends are often enjoyed together, but using fireworks during a drought can be disastrous,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Forest Service personnel are already battling multiple wildfires, some new and others ongoing, in southeastern North Carolina. There is a little bit of rain in the forecast, and we’ll keep an eye on that, looking for significant improvement in those drought conditions. Until then, fireworks are not a risk we can take in those 26 counties currently under the burn ban, and we strongly urge anyone outside those counties to think twice about using fireworks this weekend.”
Since the burn ban took effect, the N.C. Forest Service has responded to more than 70 wildfires, some, but not all, occurring in burn-ban counties. Columbus County’s NCFS office reported that crews have been called out for around a half-dozen fires since the readiness level rose May 15.