Dunn, NC, USA — Brush fires in Harnett County consumed more than 100 acres,even after warnings of dangerous fire weather across the state.
The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for Harnett Countyearly Friday morning, due to low humidity, dry conditions and gusty winds.
The prediction came true in the afternoon as several local fire departmentsalong with the North Carolina Forest Service dealt with wind-driven fires.
A quick-moving grass fire near Buies Creek drew response from three departments.The Buies Creek Fire Department, Angier-Black River Fire Department andCoats-Grove Fire and Rescue all responded to the flames in a field near N.C. 27and Old Stage Road.
No structures were endangered in the blaze and firefighters fought to keep itthat way.
“A lot of people don’t understand fire,” said Lt. Richard Johnson ofthe Buies Creek Fire Department. “It’s a living entity … it moves … itbreathes.”
With every gust of wind Friday, small glowing embers traveled further into thefield, igniting dry grass. Smoke rose high above the field and could be seenfrom several miles away.
Lt. Johnson sprayed a steady stream of water across small strongholds of flame,after the worst part of the fire died down.
Small piles of cow waste burned like torches in the blackened grass. Though thecows’ recent presence was evident, there was no sign of the animals.
“There usually are cows here,” said Heather Livesay, another BuiesCreek firefighter. “I don’t know where they went. Maybe they are hiding.”
Rangers from the Forest Service created a fire line and conducted a back burn tostop the flames’ advance into a nearby woodline.
A pile of scorched logs seemed to indicate the fire started as a controlled burn,though authorities did not know who was to blame.
“We don’t know how it started,” said Buies Creek Assistant Chief CecilGregory. “We have asked everyone around and no one knows.”
Chief Gregory said around 15 acres of land were affected by the fire. Elsewherein Harnett County, conditions were worse.
According to the Forest Service, a fire raged on Dove Road in Johnsonville onThursday consuming 178 acres of a pine forest before being contained.
“We put a line all the way around it and back burned it, most of it wentout in the drain,” Assistant County Ranger Josh Swanson said. “Itendangered about four or five houses, but the fire department was there forstructure protection.”
Wet weather this weekend was a welcome relief for forestry workers and localfire crews.
“We are tickled to death that it rained over the weekend,” RangerSwanson said. “It will provide us about a day, maybe two days of easementthere.”