Home Local News High winds, low humidity increasing wildfire risk in Richmond, surrounding counties on...

High winds, low humidity increasing wildfire risk in Richmond, surrounding counties on Tuesday

The ground smolders in Gum Swamp on May 21 from a fire that started the previous day.
RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Forestry and weather officials are asking residents of Richmond County to use extreme caution when burning on breezy days.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement warning of an increased fire danger Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning.

According to the NWS, wind gusts of 25-35 mph combined with a 25-35% drop in relative humidity “will increase the risk of ignition and spread of wildfires.”

County Ranger Brandon Van Buren with the N.C. Forest Service urges residents not to leave fires unattended.

The soil is wet, so fires will mostly burn on the surface and not in the ground, according to Van Buren. However, dry pine needles on the forest floors of the Sandhills are a significant source of fuel and March winds can fan the flames, causing fires to spread quickly.

The NCFS reports that 39 wildfires burned more than 188 acres across the state on Sunday, with 52.2 acres scorched by three fires in District 3.

One of those was a 52-acre fire off McDonald Church Road, north of Rockingham, according to Van Buren. It’s identified on the North Carolina Public Wildfire Viewer as “Shooting Range.”

The ranger believes it could have started from a campfire used during a military training exercise in the area.


The viewer also shows two small fires on Lakeland Drive, as well as one dubbed “Trash Pool” between Marigold and Flowers streets in East Rockingham.

District 3 also includes Anson, Chatham, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Scotland and Stanly counties.

More than 100 acres were burned Sunday by nine fires in District 6, comprising Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Robeson and Sampson counties. One of those was a 40-acre fire south of Lumber Bridge.

Many of Richmond County’s wildfires occur between March and May.

According to the NCFS, there were wildfires all but two days in February, and more than 300 acres were burned from 105 fires in just the first five days of March. So far this year, 985 fires have burned more than 1,000 acres.

Last week, the NCFS reported that North Carolina ranked third nationally in human-caused wildfires and that 99% of all wildfires in the state are caused by human activity.

The NCFS also included a list of burning tips.

Click here to read that press release.

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