Sitting around a bonfire on an Outer Banks beach can be romantic and relaxing. Although not allowed on beaches in Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk or Kill Devil Hills – fires are allowed, with regulations, on beaches in Nags Head and along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Please review the rules and regulations below.
Permits are required and are obtained from the Nags Head Fire Department website between 5:30 PM and midnight on the specific day the fire is requested. Bonfires will not be permitted if winds are 10 knots (11.5 mph) or more, or if other dangerous conditions exist such as high fire risk. A picture ID, the address or location where the fire will be located, and a nonrefundable permit fee are required. The permit will be emailed to you and you should keep it readily available at the fire at all times.
Fires cannot be built within 50 feet of any combustible material. In addition, the hollowed-out pit must be no larger than 3 feet in diameter and not less than 1 foot in depth. The fire must be attended to at all times by a responsible person no younger than 14, and must be completely extinguished with water prior to leaving the site. All debris must be removed, and all holes must be filled in. Only leaves, branches, and other plant growth can be burned. It is illegal to burn trash, lumber scraps, and anything other than plant growth. If winds pick up to 10 knots or more at any point during the fire, it must be extinguished immediately. Note that the permit is only valid in the town of Nags Head before midnight on the date it is issued.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Small beach fires are allowed between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore with a free permit, which can be secured via the National Park Service’s website. Sign and date the permit, and keep it readily available at the fire at all times. Your fire can be built anywhere along Cape Hatteras National Seashore between November 16 and April 30, but is limited to the following areas between May 1 and November 15 in order to protect nesting sea turtles: Coquina Beach, Ocracoke Day Use Area, and the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras. If dangerous conditions exist such as high fire risk, your beach fire permit may be suspended.
The fire must be smaller than three feet in diameter and must be attended to at all times by a responsible person no younger than 18. The fire must be completely extinguished with water prior to leaving the site. All debris must be removed, and all holes must be filled in. It is prohibited to burn anything other than untreated wood. The fire cannot be built within 328 feet of any turtle nest closure or within any protected wildlife closure. It must be built on the seaward side of the dune, below the high tide line, and at least 50 feet from any vegetation.