Brush fire engulfs golf course

Fast spreading fire engulfs Wakefield Golf Course on Falls of the Neuse Road in Raleigh Saturday afternoon. Residents in nearby townhomes battle flames as they creep toward their homes.

February 20, 2011 8:00:50 AM PST
A north Raleigh neighborhood -- Wakefield Plantation -- is trying to recover after battling a huge brush fire Saturday afternoon.Authorities had to shutdown traffic on Falls of the Neuse Road around 3 p.m. as crews tried to tackle the flames the spanned over 25 acres.

No evacuations were issued, but residents throughout the area were scrambling to get their things and get out.

"As we drove out there, there were trees lit on fire and it was just completely covered in smoke in there and there was a million cars," resident Taylor Kane said.

Flames were reaching the back porches of houses - forcing some residents to take matters into their own hands with their garden hoses. One person sustained minor injuries, but is expected to be okay.

A significant amount of the nearby golf course was overrun by fire, along with a lot of vegetation.

"It was completely brown, completely smoke in front of you," resident Megan Hamerka said. "The house in front of you wasn't even visible from the smoke of the fire."

Three homes sustained minor damage - melted vinyl siding, but no structure damage. Many firefighters were on structure protection as the flames creeped up to the back of the homes.

No one was seriously injured- but one firefighter had to be taken to the hospital for dehydration.

Three holes on the golf course also suffered minor damage. The General Manager says the golf course will stay open, but those three holes will be closed while they make repairs.

Images from Chopper11 HD show firefighters battling the blaze. One fire engine actually had to be evacuated at one point, because the fire got too close.

Kat Fotheringham and her family have lived in the Wakefield Plantation neighborhood for years and couldn't believe what they were seeing.

"Never anything like this," she said. "I woke up and the kids were freaking out and they said some house was on fire we don't know what's going on, we can't smell anything. We can't breathe in our home. I was super nervous. I just started hearing sirens and cops ... we live in a small little neighborhood where things like this don't happen."

Eyewitness Lyman Woollens says he was just on his way back from Target when he and his friend saw the fire.

"We came by and the fire had picked up on the side of the road and the wind, I mean, it's really windy out here today, so it was blowing it up into the trees up on the side of Falls of the Neuse and over towards the golf course," he said.

"It just started," eyewitness Dani Hasslett said. "There weren't any emergency vehicles there or anything yet and it was getting pretty big, towards the trees."

Woollens says he came to golf, but was told that wouldn't happen.

"We actually had tee time at like 4:20 p.m., whenever we came down, they said that the 12th and 13th holes had been completely wiped out," he said.

Another group says the fire itself was incredible and they were told one home on the 17th hole was still in danger.

"Just about a half an acre of black grass and the flames getting higher towards the trees," one witness said. "It was easily 10, 20 foot flames going up into the trees. I mean, it's kind of, its dune grass over there, like monkey grass and stuff so that stuff catches."

Meanwhile, residents are coming to each other's aid -- welcoming neighbors into their homes, as firefighters continued to knock down hot spots.

According to the State Forestry Service about 130 fires were being fought across the state Saturday. Most of those were small fires that had been contained. However, about 20 fires on 3,000 acres were still not contained.

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