Good Morning Show viewer Debbie Staley said she saw her neighbor burning something in a barrel less than 100 feet from both of their homes. That prompted her to ask: "Can you verify the burning laws...for burning barrels? I thought there were rules about how close to a dwelling and what can be burnt, but the local fire department says there is not."


Debbie lives in Davidson County near Denton, so to VERIFY we talked to the Davidson County fire ranger, Patrick Raynor. We also consulted the Greensboro assistant fire chief Dwayne Church. And, we researched NC's open burning law.


The Davidson County fire ranger said there are no Davidson County ordinances that specifically address so-called "burn barrels." But, our state's open burning law applies. That law says it is always illegal to burn trash and other non-vegetative materials. You can burn vegetation, but it can't be burned more than four times per year, and it has to be at least 500 feet from occupied buildings.

In certain Triad cities, like Greensboro, people can use burn barrels for heat in areas like construction sites, Christmas tree lots and homeless camps. But, they can burn only clean wood, not trash, in the barrels. And, the barrels must be on non-combustible surfaces at least 10 feet from occupied buildings.


Burn barrels are illegal if used to burn trash. They're not illegal if used to burn wood for heat or vegetation, as long as the open burn rules and city ordinances are followed.

In Debbie's case, she'll need to find out what her neighbor is burning to figure out whether it is illegal. She can contact the Davidson County Division of Air Quality at 336-771-5000 to investigate.


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