State News

Moisture dampens Bladen County wildfire, FEMA pledges help

Posted July 5, 2011

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— Moist weather conditions in Bladen County have allowed firefighters to regain some control over a wildfire that jumped its containment lines Sunday and grew to more than 5,200 acres, a state Forest Service spokesman said Tuesday.

Ten homes were evacuated Sunday after a planned burnout operation to fight the fire by eliminating combustible materials failed and the flames crossed their containment lines. Officials went door-to-door to Monday evening to evacuate homes near the Cumberland-Bladen county line, but many people decided not to leave. 

On Tuesday night, all evacuations were lifted. 

Rainfall overnight dampened the fire's fuel and firefighters said the wildfire is now "creeping and smoldering" rather than blazing. Barring a major rain event, crews said the fire could smolder for weeks.

"Things are looking a lot better today," said Chris Meggs, fire information officer for the Forest Service. "(Moisture) has slowed the fire down. It has not put it out, but it has given us some good conditions to get in today and get a whole lot more work done."

Bladen wildfire 'creeping and smoldering' Bladen wildfire 'creeping and smoldering'

The landscape in the area, called Carolina Bay, is a mix of waxy-leafed plants and organic soil called peat. Meggs said peat burns more easily than typical soil, which is why the fire broke from its containment.

The fire, which was sparked by a lightning strike June 20, is estimated to be 50 percent contained. Nearly 80 firefighters, some from as far as Montana, have assisted in fighting the fire, which has cost more than $600,000. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has pledged to help foot the bill.

A cabin and two outbuildings were lost in the fire Monday, as well as a four-wheeler and a specialized tractor that is used to fight wildfires. Three homes in the Live Oaks community of Cumberland County were destroyed by the blaze last month.

Roads that were closed Monday, including Turnbull Road in Cumberland County, reopened Tuesday.

Code red air quality alerts were in effect for Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties until 3:15 p.m. Wednesday due to fine particles in the air from debris burning in the wildfire. Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Orange, Person, Vance and Wake counties were under an air quality alert for sensitive groups, such as children and the elderly.

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  • lmbl Jul 5, 2011

    Seems like these fires are a developers dream...all those darn trees in the way. NC is turning into a concrete jungle.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Jul 5, 2011

    I think we should go ahead and evacuate the state. Since Bev doesn't seem to care to address the problem and chose to send our people out west to fight fires there I'd say it would be smart for all of us to pack bags and be ready to flee.

    Thanks Bev do nuthin' Perdumplin'.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jul 5, 2011

    Gracious!

    Praying mightily for those living in that area and for those fighting those fires.

  • bigal02282 Jul 5, 2011

    The area received a tremendous amount of rain last evening and hopefully that will help the containment.