Fire gives Rowan County homeowner a scare; burn ban fines start

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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. -- Jennifer Koerner called 911 when she saw clouds of smoke behind her home Wednesday afternoon.

“It was in many different spots which was even scarier because I didn't know how far it went back," Koerner said.

She lives on Highland Hills Trail north of Salisbury where a fire burned through two-acres of land.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

No one was hurt and nothing was damaged, according to firefighters.

But, Koerner says it could have been worse.

“My first thought was about all the fires in the mountains and everything going on right now,” she said. “So I was just scared it was going to spread."

It’s a fear Glen Coley, a district ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service, says is very real.

“That next spark could create a fire like we're seeing in the western part of the state,” he said.

Coley says dry conditions have caused the state to put 47 counties in North Carolina, including most of the Piedmont Triad, under a burn ban since Monday.

Fines for violating the ban went into effect Wednesday at 5 p.m.

The fines total about $280.

“The situation is very serious," Coley said.

The burn ban forbids any open burning more than 100 feet outside a person's home.

The only exceptions are for using grills or smokers.

Massive wildfires broke out in the western part of the state last week along with dozens of smaller fires throughout the Piedmont this week.

“That just reinforced why the burning ban was needed,” Coley said.

After seeing a fire in her own backyard, Koerner says the burn ban is the safest way to go.

“It's a really bad idea to burn anything now,” Koerner said.