Thursday, 22 April 2021 18:26

Crews contain wildfire south of Hamlet

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A tractor plow from the N.C. Forest Service finishes digging a containment line near a home on Mount Moriah Church Road on Thursday. A tractor plow from the N.C. Forest Service finishes digging a containment line near a home on Mount Moriah Church Road on Thursday. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Burning debris led to several acres catching fire on Mount Moriah Church Road Thursday afternoon.

Rangers from the N.C. Forest Service and firemen with Hamlet Fire and Rescue were called to the wildfire around 3:14 p.m., according to HFD Assistant Chief Richard Lassiter.

The man who was burning the debris told rangers that embers from the fire jumped his containment line.

County Ranger Jack Franklin said crews were able to contain the fire just before it reached a neighboring home.

He said the man had adequate equipment and containment, which would have been fine on a normal day.

Dry conditions, low relative humidity and moderate winds led to a red flag warning on Wednesday and an increased fire danger Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Franklin said, at the time, the relative humidity was 17%.

Conditions at Camp Mackall around 5:30 p.m. included 12 mph winds and 23% humidity, according to the NWS.

Franklin said the fire burned around 3 acres of recently cut woodland between neighboring properties, adding that he only issued a warning.

He also said that if nearby vegetation hadn’t started to green, the fire could have been worse.

Tree limbs were still smoldering when the Hamlet Fire Department left the scene just after 5 p.m.

Preliminary reports from the Forest Services show that 54 wildfires burned 114.9 acres on private and state-owned land in N.C. on Wednesday. That doesn’t include fires on federal land. 

The most fires — 15, burning 29 acres — were in District 3, which includes Richmond, Anson, Chatham, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Scotland and Stanly counties.

There were 22 fires across the state on Tuesday.

Forest Service records show there have been 518 fires in April and 1,821 this year, as of April 21.

Several sources show that North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation for wildfires.

According to Forest Service statistics, the Tar Heel State averaged 4,154 fires per year between 2010 and 2019, burning an average of more than 24,000 acres each year. Debris burning has accounted for 38% of N.C. wildfires since 1970, the most of any cause.

While fires recently peaked in 2016, with more than 77,000 acres burned, nearly 730,000 acres burned in 1941. The second-highest fire year was 1955, with more than 580,000 acres burned.

Franklin said Richmond County often ranks in the top 10 out of the state’s 100 counties for wildfires.

Last week, rangers tackled a 30-acre fire near Hoffman, he said.

Crews battled a 150-acre wildfire in Osborne Swamp south of Hamlet last April.

Courtesy: Hamlet Fire Department

(CORRECTION: The acreage burned for 1955 was 580,000. 3 p.m. 4-23-21)

Last modified on Friday, 23 April 2021 15:03