State News

Rain Helps Slow Some Robeson Wildfires

Posted August 24, 2007 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated August 25, 2007 12:05 a.m. EDT

— Recent rainfall helped slow several wildfires burning in Robeson County, but the storms missed some areas that remain threatened.

The state already has spent $475,000 fighting 148 fires that began last month.

The state Division of Parks and Recreation on Friday sent 10 state park rangers and a fire control specialist to assist firefighters battling the fires. About 2,900 acres have been burned by 144 wildfires in the last five weeks, officials said.

Nearly an inch of rain fell in Lumberton on Thursday, and more than 2 inches fell in southeast Robeson County. U.S Highway 74 was reopened after the area received about an inch of rain, officials said.

Still, the county needs at least 4 inches of rain to extinguish all the fires, state Division of Forest Services spokesman Bill Swartley said.

"If it would rain like this all day, we could go home," Swartley said. "But some of the fires didn't even see a trace."

Robeson County is almost 20 inches below its yearly average rainfall, said David Loewenthal of the National Weather Service forecast office in Wilmington.