RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Forest Service expanded a ban on open burning to an additional 16 counties on Wednesday.

Adding to the 14-county ban issued Sunday, it brings the total counties under the ban to 30.

“With the long-range forecast and conditions on the ground showing no improvement, expanding the ban on open burning to additional counties is a necessary precaution,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

The counties impacted by the ban have also had all burn permits previous granted by the forest service cancelled.

The 30 counties include:

  • Alexander,
  • Alleghany,
  • Ashe,
  • Avery,
  • Buncombe,
  • Burke,
  • Caldwell,
  • Catawba,
  • Cherokee,
  • Clay,
  • Cleveland,
  • Gaston,
  • Graham,
  • Haywood,
  • Henderson,
  • Iredell,
  • Jackson,
  • Lincoln,
  • Macon,
  • Madison,
  • McDowell,
  • Mecklenburg,
  • Mitchell,
  • Polk,
  • Rutherford,
  • Swain,
  • Transylvania,
  • Watauga,
  • Wilkes, and
  • Yancey.

The forest service explains that the ban prohibits campfires, burning leaves, branches or other plant material. It’s also illegal to burn any sort of trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other nonvegetative material.

Three fires in the western North Carolina region have scorched about 3,400 acres in the past few weeks.

One, which has been burning for more than two weeks in Cherokee County, previously doubled in size in just a day as another wildfire broke out in Asheville.

  • The Poplar Drive Fire, which is in Henderson County near Hendersonville and the Edneyville. Photo from Chimney Rock Fire Dept.
  • The Poplar Drive Fire burning Monday near Hendersonville in the Edneyville community. Photo by North Transylvania Fire Dept.

Another fire being fought back with some increased success is the Poplar Drive fire in Henderson County.

It was 5% contained on Sunday at a size of 431 acres after successful “burnout operations” were conducted, according to the forest service. As of Tuesday, the forest service reported the impacted acreage has remained steady, but 15% of the fire had been contained.

For the Triangle and even counties to the east not under the ban, the forest service is cautioning all to “think twice about any outdoor burning until we see significant, soaking rain across the state.”