Local News

Controlled Burn Engulfs Johnston Home, Threatens Others

Posted March 17, 2006 9:18 a.m. EST

— Fire department officials have repeated the same warning over and over -- be careful if you burn But on Friday, Johnston County crews were busy with another brush fire -- one of many across the area.

Officials said 93 fires were reported across the state on Thursday. So far this month, the total is 1,260, and there are more than 2,200 for the year.

Friday's fire in Johnston County started small, but it quickly got out of control. The fire destroyed this vacant house and a car in the front yard.

"It was out of hand when we got here," said Johnston County Fire Marshal Harold Henrich.

Fire investigators say the homeowner did take precautions. He dug a fire line around the area he planned to burn, but then nature took over. The dry grass and trees nearby fueled the fire, and the high wind gusts powered its movement.

"The wind when we arrived was going in every direction," said Heinrich. "It would swirl in one direction, then it would go in a different direction."

At one point, the fire threatened several homes in the Albany Acres subdivision, just off Highway 42. Charles Goodson's house was just 30 yards away from it when fire crews arrived.

"It could have been disastrous for me, but I thank God," said Goodson.

The incident came at a time when state officials are warning neighbors not to burn. Conditions are especially dry this fire season. Neighbors say, the fire should be a lesson to everyone.

"When they tell you not to do it, don't do it," said neighbor Dorothy Bellamy. "You're going to jeopardize people's lives and their homes. People work hard for that."

Fire investigators say the Johnston County incident illustrates their repeated warnings lately -- that when it's this dry and sometimes windy, it's no time to burn. Their advice is: if you're planning to burn, keep an eye on the forecast. If you have questions, call your local fire marshal.