Local News

Brush fire burns 31 acres in Durham

Posted August 3, 2011 2:09 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2011 11:21 p.m. EDT

— A brush fire burned across 31 acres in northwest Durham Wednesday afternoon, prompting residents to use garden hoses and rakes to protect their homes.

The fire charred wooded areas near Cole Mill Road and Berini Drive, off Interstate 85. No injuries or evacuations were reported.

Durham firefighters and crews with the North Carolina Forest Service used a plow to cut a line around the fire and then set small fires in an attempt to keep the flames back.

"There's really no way to deal with it other than burn it out. So, what we have to do is protect what's on the other side of the line," said Capt. David Elston of the Durham Fire Department.

Firefighters thought they had the blaze under control, but the direction of the wind changed and the fire jumped the line, putting it as close as 40 feet behind some homes on Bentgrass Lane, said Willie Hall, operations chief for the Durham Fire Department.

"The problem is, with a woods fire, the conditions can change so fast (that) you can be in a situation that's easy to work in and then you can have fire all around you," Hall said.

Before firefighters arrived, area residents sprayed flames with garden hoses and raked brush away from their homes to keep the fire at bay.

"A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do," resident Phil Young said with a laugh. "This same scenario happened about 10 years ago. The first time, it scared the dickens out of me. This time, I guess I'm a little more seasoned."

The fire might have burned an abandoned structure in the woods, residents said.

Firefighters got the fire under control by Wednesday evening, but they told residents that some hotspots could flare up overnight. The fire department sent a truck to the neighborhood overnight to monitor the situation.

"These guys came and did a wonderful job, and it's all good now," Young said.

Hall said it's unclear how the fire started, but the department's investigator has been called in to take a look.