- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The North Carolina Forest Service has issued a ban on open burning across the western part of the state because of increased fire risk amid the current drought.

The Forest Service said in a news release that the ban began 5 p.m. Monday and is in effect until further notice.

The ban prohibits all open burning in the 25 affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued. No new permits will be issued until the ban is lifted.

The affected area includes Buncombe, Gaston and Catawba counties.

Violation of the ban carries a $100 fine plus court costs of $180.

As of Nov. 6, there had been more than 2,800 wildfires affecting more than 18,000 acres on state-protected lands across North Carolina this year.

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