Reminder: No open burns in Wilmington city limits, but here’s what you can do

No open burns in Wilmington, even if it's in a fire pit (photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As temperatures begin to drop, fall festivities like pumpkin carving and sitting by a fire become more and more popular.

If you live in the City of Wilmington, you better think twice before building a fire outside.

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“We don’t allow, in the City of Wilmington, any open burning inside the city limits,” Wilmington Fire Department Community Risk Reduction Coordinator Wendy Giannini-King said.

The Wilmington Fire Department is cracking down on the city’s ordinance prohibiting open burns. If they find you with a fire, even in a fire pit, you’ll likely get a warning and some education on the ordinance on your first offense, WFD can even help you put out the fire. Repeat offenders could face a fine.

Giannini-King says she understands there can be some confusion surrounding the ordinance.

“In New Hanover County, which surrounds the City of Wilmington, they do allow open burning. You’d need to call for a permit and make sure there’s no burn ban in the county, but in the city there is none,” Giannini-King said.

This means materials like wood, paper, trash and yard debris cannot be burned in your backyard.

“Anything like that in a container that is not a cooking container is not allowed. No fire pits, no chimineas,” Giannini-King said. “It’s a matter of public safety.”

If you’re cooking over an open flame, like on a grill, you should be okay.

“But if you’ve got a fire pit in your yard and you’re toasting marshmallows, that’s really more open burning than a cooking fire,” Giannini-King said.

Fret not, your fall dreams of a toasty backyard aren’t out of reach, Giannini-King has an alternative.

“A system that uses LP gas or natural gas. So if you’ve got a burn table that has an LP gas tank underneath it, that’s totally fine because it’s very controllable,” Giannini-King said.

You can find the ordinance in its entirety here in Section 3-22 of the city’s Code of Ordinances.