Local News

Dry Weather Makes Controlled Burning a Dangerous Chore

Posted December 6, 1998

— Thanks to the warm dry weather, all it takes is a spark to send land and brush up in flames. So if you're planning to burn in your backyard, you better watch out.

For the first time in nearly a decade, North Carolina is experiencing a fire season in the Fall.

Wayne County Volunteer firefighters spent Monday afternoon battling a brush fire for the second time in four days.

"It's really harder than a house fire. Going into the woods, and with the manpower situation that we have during the day, is tough on us," said Patetown Volunteer Fire Department Asst. Chief John Gardner.

Rangers say that until we get significant rain, the situation will get worse. You do not have to look far to see why. The underground water table is extremely low.

The wetlands are normally under three to five feet of water, but not now.

A smoldering heap of ashes in Johnston County was ignited for a controlled burneightdays ago. It was still burning Monday morning. It's dry enough to be dangerous.

"People burn a pile of debris on the ground and they think that it's going out after several days. But it ends up that if they go out there and put several leaves on top, and they don't realize it can get out, it can start a new fire," said Forest Ranger Bennie Casey.

Experts say keeping a close eye on controlled burns is the best thing a landowner can do.

"Fire is a good tool, but it has to be handled properly, and you have to remember that the ground is dry. Just because you burn a pile of leaves today doesn't mean there's not going to be fire in there for several days," explained Casey.

Rangers say that unless the rain forecasted for later in the week is a downpour, it will not be enough to bring the water table up.

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