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Charges Possible in Hoke County Fire

Authorities say charges could be filed in a brush fire that destroyed six Raeford homes on Thursday.

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RAEFORD, N.C. — Hoke County fire officials on Friday continued their investigation into a fire that destroyed several homes on Thursday.

Six residences -- three of which were vacant -- in the Cameron Village Community, west of Raeford, were destroyed. No one was injured.

Officials said the fire might have been a controlled trash burn on Wednesday that was left to smolder overnight and that high winds on Thursday caused the pile to flare up.

Hoke County Fire Marshal Freddy Johnson said whoever is responsible could face a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper control of a fire.

Steve Gibbs, who lives on Loop Road, said he saw something smoking behind his chicken coop at about 9 a.m. Thursday but did not think the fire would get out of control.

He said it was normal for someone to burn fires in the area.

"There was some smoke, so I really didn't think that much after 'cause I looked, I looked around, and I didn't see (anybody)," Gibbs said. "And I'm like, 'Who's burning trash this time of day?'"

"I looked around to see if there was anybody out there tending to it," he said. "I thought maybe he had went to his house."

Gibbs said he had a worker put a tin lid on his chicken coop on Wednesday and realized on Thursday some debris from the work had been charred.

"I noticed there was a spot that had been burned. I did not tell him to burn it. I can't say he burned it," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said he was away when the fire burned out of control and burned 160 acres of land and that he was called in the early afternoon to return home because of it.

The American Red Cross is offering assistance to residents who were displaced by the blaze. Many of them, however, are staying with family.


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