a statewide alert
, warning homeowners to be careful burning yard debris.
Just after noon on Thursday, Bahama and Lebanon firefighters got a call about a fire off Preston Andrews Road. When they got to the scene, they found a house surrounded by fire.
On The Web:
Wildfire Updates From The N.C. Division Of Forest Resources
On The Web:
Safe Outdoor Burning Tips From The NCDOFR
"Of course, we were scared to death," said homeowner Candy Riggs, "It got very close to the house. Thank God our house didn't catch on fire."
Instead, the fire scorched nearly an acre around Candy and John Riggs' home. Crews spent a few hours soaking surrounding woods to make sure it wouldn't re-ignite.
On Wednesday night, the Riggs burned a pile of trash. Thursday morning, they tossed some items on top of what they thought was just a pile of ash.
"We thought it was out, but obviously it wasn't," said Riggs." Evidently, the winds picked up and caught fire."
Durham firefighters think the same conditions may have led to an early morning mess. A spark from a passing train touched off a grass fire that spread to several cars on a repossessed car lot.
State forestry experts say low humidity and gusty winds can spark fires, but this year's dry conditions make it more difficult to put them out.
"The fire burns down in the ground and into the litter and dust on the top of the ground and it burns deeper, " said Ranger Wayne Williams.
The Bahama fire missed the house and bypassed the dogs. The Riggs are thankful for that -- and perhaps a bit wiser too.
"We're not burning again for a long time," said Riggs.
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