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Brush Fires in 4 Counties; Homes Damaged in Hoke

Posted February 22, 2007

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— Brush fires whipped by high winds Thursday challenged firefighters in Raleigh and in Moore, Hoke and Johnston counties.

In Raleigh, where seven fires were reported between 3 and 3:30 p.m., winds carried flames from an townhouse complex  and ignited brush fires in adjoining unbuilt areas. Firefighters were called to five brush fires in the city while the larger fire burned.

In western Hoke County, a wind-driven brush fire leveled six homes, some of them abandoned, in an area on Loop Road known locally as Cameron Village. As many as two dozen other homes were in the path of the brush fire, but they sustained little or no damage.

Investigators had not determined the cause of the fire, which broke out about 2 p.m. Hot spots among the pine trees and blackened ground were being hosed down at sunset.

The fire burned approximately 160 acres and brought firefighters from Moore County to assist.

Hoke County authorities say the fire started with somebody burning backyard trash, and charges are expected. Investigators said they believed the resident was burning the debris Wednesday and let it smolder overnight. Thursday's winds caused the pile to flare up, they said.

"Somebody has got to be held responsible,” Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said.

Ken Tyndall of the Pinehill Volunteer Fire Department. said some of the houses were abandoned.

"(We) don't really know how many of them were lived in," Tyndall said.

"The wind laying down helped a lot" in getting the fire under control, Tyndall said.

In addition, fire crews in Moore County fought four brush fires of their own. Those were brought under control about 5 p.m., and no injuries were reported.

In Johnston County, firefighters were sent to a brushfire at Camilla Road and Route 301 South just as crews were mopping a brush fire at I-40 and NC. 50.

The wave of brush fires came as high pressure ahead of a cold front brought wind gusts over 40 mph and the humidity plunged to 10 percent to 15 percent and temperatures rose. Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded a record high of 74 degrees.

In addition, the year-to-date rainfall is below normal, increasing the fire danger, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. Several counties in central North Carolina were put under a "red flag" fire warning through midnight Thursday because of the conditions.

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  • johnnyreb27330 Feb 23, 2007

    Hail2opeth, all I can say is what if your next door neighbor started burning leaves with 30-40 mph wind gusts and it burns your house down. What would you do, just make them sit in a class room to learn about fire safety while you rebuild from scratch?

  • concerned456 Feb 23, 2007

    Who was the idiot burning trash with winds gusting to 35 - 40 miles. They should be made to pay for the time spent putting out this fire.

  • hail2opeth Feb 23, 2007

    "Somebody has got to be held responsible," says the Hoke County Sheriff. Why is it that anytime anything random goes wrong in the world, "somebody has got to be held responsible?" Nobody is responsible for the high winds today. People do irresponsible things, such as leave fires smoldering, all the time. Even if the person who did it this time got caught, why should they face a harsher punishment than other irresponsible people who have done the same thing with no consequence? Does our constant quest to find scapegoats really make the world a better place? Or would we be better served to make stronger efforts to educate the public on how to be more responsible about fire safety and everything else for which irresponsibility occasionally causes tragedies?