04/16/06 — Woods wildfire destroys 100 acres in southeastern Wayne

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Woods wildfire destroys 100 acres in southeastern Wayne

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 16, 2006 2:05 AM

From staff reports

SEVEN SPRINGS -- About 100 acres of woodlands in southeastern Wayne County were burned Friday. Fire service officials said no buildings were damaged, and no injuries were reported, although some surrounding homes were threatened.

Reports of more brush fires fueled by dry conditions continued Saturday.

Friday's fire was believed to have started at about 2:30 p.m. from burning trash behind a mobile home park near the 1400 block of Zion Church Road.

N.C. Forestry Service bomber planes carrying a fire retardant put out the fire that had raged for hours.

Three volunteer fire departments had fought the blaze, but they requested the assistance of the Forestry Service's planes and plows. The firefighters remained for almost five hours Friday.

Dwight Bryant, the chief Forestry Service ranger, estimated that 100 acres were destroyed or damaged.

The Forestry Service and volunteers returned Saturday to check out the area and make sure no "hot spots" developed.

The amount of damages was not immediately available.

Pricetown volunteers were dispatched to the blaze first. The Seven Springs department also was dispatched but was later told to disregard the call, fire officials said. About 20 minutes later, Seven Springs was dispatched again, along with Indian Springs. In the meantime, the Forestry Service was sent, too.

By the time all the departments had arrived, the fire had worked its way through a small patch of pine trees, reached an open field and spread toward several homes and other buildings.

The Forestry Service unloaded plows and dug trenches around the outside of the fire. But the blaze was threatening to cross Atlas Price Road and reach about 25 mobile homes in several parks off N.C. 55, west of Seven Springs.

A Forestry Service spotter plane arrived and kept in radio contact with ground crews, officials said. A second plane formed an attack angle for the bomber planes to follow. Each bomber plane made two drops of a fire retardant where the flames were most visible along the fire line and then returned to the Kinston airport to reload. The planes made 15 drops before crews contained the blaze Friday, a Forestry Service spokesman said.

Fire department engines and tankers were placed in yards to protect homes, while brush trucks tried to contain the fire lines that had been dug by Forestry Service plows from Wayne and other counties. In several places, the fire jumped over the fire lines before it could be contained.

The state Department of Transportation provided traffic control at two intersections on Atlas Price Road, at N.C. 55 and Zion Church Road.

Three other woods fires were reported Saturday -- near Antioch Road, to which Saulston and the Forestry Service responded; near Pecan Road, to which Arrington responded, and near Howell Road, to which Rosewood and the Forestry Service were summoned. Six brush or grass fires also were reported.

Polly Watson and Nahunta volunteers also were called to woods fires on N.C. 222 in Johnston County, according to Emergency Services records.