Monday, 06 April 2020 13:31

Fire burns estimated 150 acres south of Hamlet

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A plane dumps water on a wildfire south of Osborne Road on Saturday. A plane dumps water on a wildfire south of Osborne Road on Saturday. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Crews battled a wildfire on the state line over the weekend for roughly 17 hours.

Officials with the N.C. Forest Service station in Rockingham say the Osborne Swamp fire was extinguished sometime between 10 and 11 p.m.

Although the official damage hasn’t been determined, it’s estimated the fire burned around 150 acres.

Assistant Chief Richard Lassister said the Hamlet Fire Department was dispatched around 5:45 a.m. Saturday.

One passerby with South Carolina plates told firefighters at the scene that he had driven by around 4 a.m. and thought it was a controlled burn.

Crews with the Forest Service put a line around the fire to contain it, but a drop in humidity caused it to jump the line mid-afternoon, according to Jack Franklin, county ranger with the Forest Service.

The fire had burned about 70 acres and crossed the state line around 4 p.m., resulting in crews from the Wallace Fire Department and the South Carolina Forestry Commission to be called out.

Lassiter said because the area is a swamp, it made it hard to get trucks and bulldozers in to help contain the fire.

Franklin later added that the area is notorious for fires. He also said that the fire would have been worse if it had happened earlier in the week because of stronger winds.

Two water-tanker planes were refueling at the Richmond County Airport when they were called in to assist, however, they were soon re-routed to Columbus County to a fire threatening homes near Whiteville.

Records with the Forest Service show there were 57 fires across the state that day which burned 308.5 acres. In the first five days of this month, there have been a total of 160 wildfires with 592 acres burned. This does not include fires on federal property.

As of April 3, there was a burn ban in effect in the entire western region of the state.