State News

Weather helps firefighters in Onslow County

Posted March 25, 2011 5:39 a.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2011 11:30 p.m. EDT

— Training at Camp Lejeune last weekend sparked a massive wildfire that has burned through 9,500 acres and closed three schools Friday, according to state forestry officials.

The fire was about 40 percent contained Friday night, a post spokesman said.

Firefighters from multiple departments were continuing to work the lines late Friday night and were hoping for a soaking rain over the weekend. 

"Rain is a firefighter's best friend," North Carolina Forest Service spokesman Bill Swartley said. "The best thing we can have on this fire in terms of suppression is what falls out of the sky."

Dixon elementary, middle and high schools in Holly Ridge were closed because they are close to a hot spot.

Hundreds of people whose homes were evacuated Thursday have been allowed to come back, but authorities warned their return could be cut short if the fire spreads or flares up again.

All roads have been reopened. Authorities said local law enforcement was patrolling the roads and urged motorists to use caution due to the dense smoke.

The smoke also prompted Onslow County commissioners to declare a state of emergency late Thursday.

Swartley said the fire started last Saturday during a training exercise at a fire range in Camp Lejeune. It got out of control Thursday and spread into lands adjoining the military base.

Onslow County wildfires

View Onslow County wildfires in a larger map