Warm, windy weather sparks wildfires

Posted February 14, 2011
Updated February 15, 2011

Fire crews battled wildfires in Harnett, Wake and Orange counties on Feb. 14, 2011.

— Firefighters battled brush fires near Fuquay-Varina and in Orange County Monday after a warm, windy day whipped up the fire risk across the state.

Brian Haines, spokesman for the North Carolina Forestry Department, said more than 120 fires burned more than 470 acres statewide. Most of them were in the Piedmont area, where there were around 70 fires.

In Orange County, authorities closed Interstate 40 West near N.C. Highway 86 when smoke from a wildfire limited visibility for evening commuters. Through traffic headed west was being detoured off I-40 at Exit 270 (U.S. Highways 15/501 North) to Interstate 85. The lanes were reopened at about 6:30 p.m., but traffic was backed up for miles until after 7 p.m.

Padric Nye lives in the area. He was one of the first people on the scene trying to battle the blaze.

"The heat was really intense on your face," he said.

The fire moved through a wooded area toward his house. He ran a water hose as far as he could to beat it back.

"We saw this line of fire going across," he said. "We saw smoke coming off and we could smell it."

The fire moved into the woods, where dry leaves fueled it. Fire trucks had a difficult time maneuvering through the trees and the wind caused the flames to spread quickly.

"(The wind) carries the fire pretty quickly and that is what we are seeing in fires across the state," Haines said.

wildfires Wildfires sweep Piedmont due to dry, windy conditions

Authorities also fought a brush fire in Fuquay-Varina.

Susan Weiss, public information officer for the town of Fuquay-Varina, said the fire spread across about 5 acres along Angier Road but did not threaten any homes. No one was injured. The fire started just after 3 p.m. and was under control by 5:30 p.m., Weiss said.

The most common cause of wildfires in North Carolina is debris burning, authorities said.

The afternoon sun on Valentine's Day warmed more than just hearts. The highest hourly temperature recorded at Raleigh-Durham International Airport was 72 degrees, almost 20 degrees above the normal for this date.

Drought conditions exist over almost half the state, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council, due to a lack of precipitation in recent months. Despite snow over the past few months, the Triangle, for example, is 2.86 inches below rainfall for the year.

The Triangle will see spring-like sunshine throughout the week, with another chance for 70s coming by Friday, said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner, but there is no rain in the forecast.


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  • lma1973 Feb 17, 2011

    Oh no doubt...we havent seen the last of the brime this year!! They still have a few tons to disperse.

  • tobywilliamson58 Feb 17, 2011

    Looks like we may need to spray the roads agin next week if they continue to drop the temps. Lookout, more BRIME!

  • lma1973 Feb 17, 2011

    Well they have changed the forecast AGAIN. Yesterday Mon and Tues next week were 70 and 72, now its in the low 50's. They changed the weekend temps again as well. Come on WRAL-tell weatherscope to settle down!!

  • logic82 Feb 16, 2011

    People really sadden me. I find it hard to believe that most fires are caused by smokers. Aside from that, their is an unjustifiable prejudice against smokers. As a veteran I find it appalling the reasons we give for banning smoking in certain places. Why can we not find a justifiable cause like, it's bad for their health. Try to force them to quit to help not only better themselves but our future for our children? I am an ex smoker and know for a fact that it is a hard habit to kick. So for those of you that have never smoked and quit, please don't judge because you have no right too. Just becasue your alcoholism is more concealable than a cigarette does not make you any better. I am sure there are plenty of people that do not smoke and have some disgusting habits themselves. As well, I picked up smoking when I was in Afghanistan, best nerve relaxer you could get out there at less than $3 a pack tax free.

  • tobywilliamson58 Feb 16, 2011

    Yall hold on! Sat. temp is rising again!!

  • tobywilliamson58 Feb 15, 2011

    I wish they would quit trying to predict this weekends' temps. Every few hours, Sat.'s temp goes down and fri. temp goes up. What is the deal? Started off Sunday with Sat. being 75. HA, HA!

  • lma1973 Feb 15, 2011

    Brime fires are the worst!!!!

  • ConcernedNCC Feb 15, 2011

    I didn't know wamth and wind could "spark" a fire. It's usually lightning or a tossed, my my, there are some uneducated people in this discussion.

  • independentvoter3 Feb 15, 2011

    Waaa... wa...wa...waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • Just WhiskeyKel Feb 15, 2011

    Smokers love to get their panties in a wad.