CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and the rest of Orange County and the surrounding Triangle area has been extremely dry for the past several weeks.  Passing rain showers have done little to ease the problem.

In fact, some areas of North Carolina have been so dry that wildfires have broken out like the Table Rock blaze in the Linville Gorge located in the Pisgah National Forest.  It has burned over 18-hundred acres and more land is expected to be damaged before it is brought under control.

There have also been a few wildfires around our region.  Matt Lawrence is the Operations Chief with the Chapel Hill Fire Department.  He says conditions here are not dry enough yet to issue a red flag alert…

“We’re not to a level of dryness yet that causes the state—in our area at least—any tremendous concern,” Lawrence says. “It is fall, though; we do have a lot of dry leaves that are falling, and things generally dry out this time of year.”

Chief Lawrence reminds Chapel Hill residents that you can’t have an open fire inside the corporate limits.

“We have an open-burning ordinance which doesn’t allow any type of open burning of leaves, trash, limbs, yard debris, or anything like that,” Lawrence says.

He says that this not only is the law, but it makes sense not to burn your leaves or other yard debris.

“If we had somebody burning leaves, first of all it would be a nuisance,” Lawrence says. “We get tons of calls for that. But then also you’re putting your neighbors at risk simply because if that fire gets out of control it could spread very quickly.

Chief Lawrence also says that it is very easy for an open fire to send cinders into the air causing wildfires to occur even up to a mile away.

“It has the potential to have sparks that escape and get into dry tinder in the yard (which) could cause a fire,” Lawrence says.