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Alamance Man's New Year's Idea 'Fires' Up Interest Across the Country

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BURLINGTON — Some celebrate the New Year by watching a ball drop, and others just stay up late and watch television. However, one man in Alamance County decided to celebrate in his own way, and his idea has fired up a lot of interest across the country.

Where there is smoke, there is fire, and there has been smoke around Herb Spencer's home in Alamance County for 83 days.

"I'd say since Oct. 9 I've probably burnt about 30 tons," said Spencer.

The wood comes from a tree service company Spencer works for, and the idea for the Millenium Fire came from a friend.

"He said, 'Wouldn't it be cool to burn it until the new year,' and as soon as he said new year, the first word that popped into my head was Millenium," said Spencer.

The word "Millenium" has been popping into a lot heads lately.

There are some purists who say the next Millenium does not start until Jan. 1, 2001, and Spencer said he would not even consider keeping the fire going just to satisfy them.

Spencer admits he is jumping on the Millenium bandwagon even if it is too early.

The time is right not just for a big fire but to honor a friend.

"Ronald Keith Lumsford died of diabetes. This fire is in memory of him. Me and that boy had some real good times," said Spencer.

Spencer has planned a pig picking around the fire tomorrow night to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. Radio stations from across the country have been calling for Millenium Fire updates.

"He kind of drove me crazy with all the phone calls and stuff," said Alma Spencer, Herb Spencer's wife.

She also has diabetes, so she will put up with the calls, the smoke and the piles of wood as long as it is gone by Saturday. After all, this is history in the making.

"I know we won't be here in 2,000 years, so this is the first Millenium Fire and the last," said Spencer.

Spencer's fire has also burned up a lot of old Christmas trees that friends and neighbors were trying to get rid of.