Local News

Bladen wildfire jumps burn line; threatens Cumberland homes

Posted July 3, 2011 5:37 p.m. EDT
Updated July 3, 2011 11:17 p.m. EDT

— A wildfire in Bladen County that was sparked last month and has already destroyed three homes in the Live Oaks community jumped its containment line Sunday, forcing the evacuation of at least 10 homes near the Bladen-Cumberland County line, emergency officials said.

The state Forest Service has been battling the blaze, which has burned at least 3,200 acres since June 21. A "burnout operation" Sunday went awry, causing the flames to spread toward homes on Avery and Squatting Bear roads, off Turnbull Road, in southeast Cumberland County. 

When fire lines are drawn in mineral soil, the fire stops when it reaches the containment line, said Chris Meggs, fire information officer for the Forest Service, but the soil at this location is organic, allowing the fire to burn through.

"The fire is going to burn not only the stuff on top of the ground, the leaves and needles and sticks and stuff like that. It's also going to burn down into the soil," Meggs said.

Airplanes were dumping water on the fire, Meggs said, and crews were working to plow a new containment line.

The Red Cross established a temporary shelter at Cape Fear High School, 4762 Clinton Road in Fayetteville, for evacuees.

No one has been injured and multiple fire departments were on the scene to protect homes from damage. Three buildings were burned Sunday, including a hunting cabin.

Nearby residents said they were nervous about the amount of smoke in the air and the aircraft flying over their homes.

"The flames actually keep getting closer... closer and closer to this area," said Rob Wingo, a homeowner who lives about a half mile from the fire.

Shelley West also lives nearby. 

"I'm kind of thinking in my mind what I need to be getting together in case we do have to leave," West said.