State News

Firefighters make progress on Pender County blaze

Posted June 30, 2011 10:38 a.m. EDT
Updated June 30, 2011 12:42 p.m. EDT

— Firefighters are finally making progress on a three-week-old wildfire in Pender County.

Officials said Thursday the fire is 68 percent contained after a controlled burn conducted by the North Carolina Forest Service.

The burn out was intended to eliminate combustible materials on the south side of the Holly Shelter Game Land and keep the fire from spreading into more populated areas along U.S. Highway 17.

Forestry officials say helicopters equipped with infrared cameras are being used to identify spots still burning within the 47-square-mile area.

The fire in Pender County is one of four large fires in eastern North Carolina. Officials say there are more than 2,000 homes in the area.

A wildfire that destroyed three homes in Bladen County is 60 percent contained, authorities said. It has burned more than 1,300 acres off N.C. Highway 53.

Charlene and Tommy Fowler said they lost their home of 13 years. Two other homes, both more than a century old, were also destroyed.

"So far, we just found this little angel. My wife found this cross," Tommy Fowler said as the couple picked through the rubble of their home. "Neither one has been burnt or destroyed, so that keeps our faith strong."

The Bladen County fire started last week with a lightning strike. It is burning in a low-lying area known as a bay.

The fire isn't threatening any more homes, but fire crews say it could smolder for weeks.