A ban on open burning in Wilkes County is in effect until further notice as of 5 p.m. Friday.

N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler announced earlier Friday that he was taking this action in Wilkes and 32 other western North Carolina counties due to “hazardous forest fire conditions.”

N.C. Forest Service personnel said it was part of efforts to limit potential firefighter exposure to the coronavirus.

The burning ban is also in effect in the adjoining counties of Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Iredell, Watauga and Yadkin, as well as Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Union and Yancey counties.

Wilkes Fire Marshal Niki Hamby issued a burning for areas within 100 feet of occupied dwellings in Wilkes later Friday. County fire marshals are responsible for open fires within 100 feet of occupied dwellings.

Although they’re completely banned now, in ordinary circumstances fires within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling must be confined within an enclosure that prevents burning material from escaping or be in a protected area under watch and with adequate fire protection equipment.

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