Hillsborough considers a ban on pine straw

February 25, 2008 5:16:02 AM PST
A possible pine straw ban could be around the corner for Hillsborough. Leaders are discussing it at a meeting Monday.

It comes after a devastating fire at the Pine Knoll Townes in Raleigh last year. Fire officials say pine straw helped fuel a blaze that destroyed 30-townhomes last year. Investigators say someone who threw a cigarette into pine straw started the fire; high winds helped the blaze spread.

Both Raleigh and Chapel Hill are now regulating the use of pine straw around homes, and the town of Hillsborough wants to do the same.

Fire Marshal Jerry Wagner is proposing a ban of pine straw from being placed, even temporarily, within 10 feet of any commercial or residential buildings other than one- or two-family dwellings.

"We've had a lot of windy, dry days," Wagner said, noting a number of apartment fires in the area and the blaze at the Pine Knoll Townes development in Raleigh.

The proposed addition to the Hillsborough Town Code would apply to any material with a fire spread rate of more than 24 inches per minute. Pine straw burns at a rate of 90 inches per minute, with flames reaching as high as 21.9 inches.

Hillsborough's proposed ordinance would require the removal of any landscaping material covered by the ordinance unless it had decayed to the point that it no longer posed a fire threat. The fire marshal would need to evaluate and test the material.

The Town Board will discuss the proposal at its work session Monday. The proposed ordinance could come before the board for a vote on March 10.


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