Local News

Dry Weather, Wind Make Conditions Ripe for Fire

Posted January 26, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— Firefighters in Chatham County stopped a small woods fire from burning a house and a forest Saturday. Weather conditions are ripe for losing control of outdoor fires.

When fire crews answered the call at a home on Poythress Road in northern Chatham County, winds were whipping a brush fire in every direction as it spread to a backyard barn.

"The most challenging part was probably the wind conditions," says N.C. forester Chris Morris. "The fire was really jumping and getting ahead of us."

Jean Williams' home was danger of falling victim to the flames. The fire crept to within a few feet of the house.

While firefighters saved the house, the N.C. Forest Service brought in plows, digging a trench and creating a fire line to contain the blaze.

The recent dry spell is of concern to fire officials.

"Normally, we don't have a lot of low humidity conditions this time of year," says Chief Mark Riggsbee of the N. Chatham Fire Department. "As spring moves in, we may have problems with that."

Quick action saved the house and contained the hungry fire to eight acres of land. Riggsbee suspects it all came from a controlled burn that was supposed to have been extinguished.

"They checked it through the night and checked it early this morning, but with the wind whipping up the way it was, it only took a couple of sparks," he says.

Other than some exhaustion, no one was injured in the fire.