Firefighters: Finally we got some rain

Posted September 26, 2010 9:45 p.m. EDT
Updated September 26, 2010 10:57 p.m. EDT

— Sunday's rain came as a particular relief to firefighters who, in 48 hours on Friday and Saturday, battled about 80 brush fires across the state.

High temperatures and dry conditions help the fires start and spread.

"It's been getting more and more busy," said Brian Haines, a spokesman for the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources.

Brush fire season is just beginning. North Carolina typically sees more fires in the months of October and November.

"We're going to be in for a big, heavy fire season with brush fires," said Brian Dillard, assistant fire chief for the Stony Hill Fire Department.

When the skies opened up Sunday afternoon, the rain helped douse the last flare-ups of a fire that claimed about 250 acres Saturday in Halifax County.

"Finally we got some rain," Dillard said. "Hopefully, this is going to bring some of the woods fires to an end."

Both experts said that while weather conditions can fuel a fire's spread, the more important factor is human.

People who park a car in the grass may not realize how the heat from a catalytic converter can spark a blaze, Haines said.

The number one cause of brush fires is people who see their attempt to burn debris get out of hand.

"Stay with it," Dillard said. "Make sure the area is clean around it and wet around it, and stay with the fire until it's completely extinguished."

When the ground is dry like it has been throughout September, the chance that a uncontrolled burn can spread is that much greater.

"One good, hot, dry, windy day (and) we'll be right back into burning conditions," Dillard said.

"If we don't get a significant amount of rain, it could get worse," Dillard added.