Weather fuels several Triangle brush fires

N.C. bans outdoor burning
March 28, 2008 6:06:38 AM PDT
Weather conditions created a perfect environment for brush fires that popped up across the Triangle Thursday.

Firefighters in Durham County spent hours battling a blaze and trying to protect nearby homes.

The fires started in an area south of Lake Michie off Jock Road. It wasn't long before flames and thick smoke blanketed several acres.

"This is the spring fire season," Wayne Williams, Bahama Fire Department, said.

And with the season comes fierce flames, smoke and a bit of fear from nearby resident with a backyard view.

Williams says Thursday's weather conditions were the worst, meaning conditions were perfect for a fire.

"We've got low relative humidity, high winds during the daytime," Williams said. "Any kind of an outdoor fire can get out of hand just by the wind taking it."

Firefighters think the blaze in Bahama started after a tree fell on a power line. Nearly 100 acres burned well into the night.

"This is the biggest fire we've had so far this year," Williams said.

The threat of more big fires forced the N.C. Division of Forest Resources to impose a statewide ban on outdoor burning. All burning permits were canceled due to windy conditions across the state.

However, the ban did little to prevent several Triangle fires.

Chopper 11 hovered above flames encroaching on a southern Durham neighborhood.

Another fire broke out at Glendale Road in Johnston County just after 4 p.m.

Crews in northern Sampson County doused flames off Highway 55, and in Wake County, crews spotted a fire near a construction site.

No one was hurt and no homes were evacuated.

The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources said the ban on burning took effect at noon Thursday. It will remain in effect until conditions improve.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Thursday for all counties east of the North Carolina mountains. Forecasters said humidity levels will fall to less than 25 percent and sustained winds will reach at least 20 mph. Those conditions can quickly fan and spread outdoor fires.

The Division of Forest Resources said more than 1,800 wildfires have already burned 18,248 acres in 2008.


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