Haywood County remains in a state of moderate drought, while the rest of the state continues to dry out and the N.C. Forest Service has issued fire prevention tips ahead of fall wildfire season.

Rainfall through the first nine days of October was spotty in Haywood County, with less than half an inch recorded at the Mountain Research Station located 1 mile east of Waynesville, compared to 2.34 inches of precipitation recorded in the southern part of the county, at 5,320 feet above sea level on Frying Pan Mountain, according to data from the N.C. Climate Office.

Across North Carolina, 75 of the state’s 100 counties are experiencing either abnormally dry conditions or drought, according to a map from the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council.

With October being the driest month in North Carolina, the N.C. Forest Service is urging caution and offering advice for wildfire prevention, considering Oct. 6-12 is National Fire Prevention Week.

“The fall wildfire season typically lasts from mid-October until mid-December, the time of year when people do a lot of yard work that may include burning leaves and yard debris,” the N.C. Forest Service said in a press release. “The leading cause of wildfires in North Carolina is debris burning. When left unattended, debris fires can escape and start wildfires.”

More than 59,511 acres burned across North Carolina during fall 2016, said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in the press release.

“As we head into this fall fire season facing similarly dry weather conditions, let’s remember that each of us can do our part to prevent wildfires,” Troxler said. “It is important to exercise extreme caution while burning debris of any kind.”

The N.C. Forest Service said residents should contact their local county forest ranger before burning debris. Haywood County Ranger Matthew Hooper can be contacted at 828-627-6551.

For a list of wildfire prevention tips from the U.S. and N.C. forest services, visit www.themountaineer.com. For more information about wildfire prevention, go to www.ncforestservice.gov, or https://smokeybear.com.

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