USA — A forest fire in the northern part of the city flared to about 60 acres Saturday afternoon, burning two houses and at least three mobile homes.
Some homes in the small neighborhood off McCloskey Road were evacuated, but no injuries were reported.
Tim Mitchell, who is deputy director of Cumberland County Emergency Services, reported a couple of smaller brush fires that kicked up in the same fire district over the afternoon.
“We had fires on Flower Bud and Spurge Drive,” he said. “No reported structures were involved with either of those. There really weren’t that many (fires), but the big fire was on McCloskey.”
The forest fire started off McCloskey Road near Fort Bragg. Northwest winds forced the flames to spread through a remote cluster of residences hidden by stands of loblolly and longleaf pine.
Firefighters got the call about 2:15 p.m.
An estimated 10 structures were threatened, said Andrew Snyder, a county ranger with the N.C. Forest Service.
“We had to evacuate a few homes,” he said Saturday evening, while still on site. “We pulled people out when the fire was coming because we didn’t know what the fire would do.”
Snyder reported no injuries. He could not provide an estimate of the damage.
Two tractors were brought in to help contain the fire, and a N.C. Forest Service scout plane tracked its progress from overhead. At one point, 25 firefighters with the Cumberland and Harnett counties forestry services and Fayetteville and Fort Bragg fire departments were battling the blaze on the ground.
By 5 p.m., Snyder said, the fire was fully contained.
He could not say what caused the fire, adding it remains under investigation. But he said low humidity and winds over 10 mph contributed to the fire spreading.
“We had some 15-mile-an-hour gusts that really pushed the fire,” he said. “If the wind had really been kicking, we would have had lots more. More acreage. Luckily, the winds kind of died down about 4 o’clock.”
The fire spread over private property, across McCloskey Road from land that has been designated for the county’s Carvers Creek State Park. The fire did not burn on the park side of the road.
A winding asphalt and dirt road leads into the area of mobile homes and houses at 935 McCloskey, which was the address that firefighters responded to.
The only sign of life late Saturday afternoon was a small brown dog.
In one location near the main road, two tall brick chimneys remained from what appeared to have been a home. Twisted sheets of tin roof lay on the ground, amidst ashes and broken chunks of cement block.
The grass was charred around the remains of the home.
Further down the road, a burned BMW could be seen next to a home that appeared to have escaped serious damage.
“You know what,” Snyder said, “that car is burned … and that tractor’s all right.”
The limbs of a Southern red oak tree spread over the burned ruins of another structure further along the road. A porcelain toilet had toppled over on the burnt ground.