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It’s legal to burn yard waste in the county, but what about the smoke that permeates my house?

Ashley Withers

Brian Kirkham tends a small debris fire in Boiling Spring Lakes Wednesday March 18, 2009. Staff Photo BY PAUL STEPHEN.

Q. I know it’s legal to burn yard waste outside the city limits. I live in Kings Grant and have multiple neighbors who do so regularly and the smoke inundates my yard and often permeates my house. Are there any rules that protect me from having to deal with this?

A. “Burning of vegetative debris/yard waste is permitted to occur on the property of which it originates in the unincorporated areas of New Hanover County with a valid burning permit from the N.C. Forest Service,” county spokesman Charles Smith said. “This excludes trash, construction materials, etc.”

Smith suggests checking for the neighbors’ valid permits or submitting a petition to the N.C. Division of Air Quality.

Smith said that anyone who has a documented health concern and is living in an area prone to outdoor burning may petition the Division of Air Quality for relief.

“Upon their investigative determination, it is possible to have area noted with ‘known health hazards’ – which would prevent this type of outdoor burning,” Smith said.

For more information on this process, contact the N.C. Division of Air Quality Wilmington Regional Office at 796-7215.


Why is it illegal to burn debris in the city?

I read the article about backyard burning in New Hanover and Wilmington but would like to know the laws in Brunswick County.

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2 Responses to “ It’s legal to burn yard waste in the county, but what about the smoke that permeates my house?”

  1. On February 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm Jennifer wrote:

    Are there regulations about where people can burn yard debris in their yard? My neighbor burns right next to my fence. Do they have to be a certain distance from neighbors etc?

  2. On October 14, 2014 at 7:28 pm Sue wrote:

    We have had this similar problem with next door neighbors for over a year; except it is a ‘burn barrel’ they’re using. We don’t have a problem with the burning; just their method. They ‘burn’ on a regular basis and the debris (leaves and twigs) smokes and smokes for hours on end, often depositing the smoke right in our house through the windows. They have their ‘right to burn'; don’t we have a right to breathe? Not to mention having to keep our windows closed with the air on when we’d like to keep them open but do not want to come home with our house smelling like there’s been a fire inside it (smoke damage smell). Being nice did not work; some people only care about themselves and can’t ‘put the shoe on the other foot.’ Besides changing legislature, what is there to do? Although we live in an “unincorporated” area of New Hanover county; houses are in CLOSE proximity to each other; the burn barrel is less than 15 yards from our house/windows. Maybe the laws should be re-visited? Just saying…..Smoked Out

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