02/25/07 — Burning discouraged in eastern counties

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Burning discouraged in eastern counties

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 25, 2007 2:01 AM

Dry, windy conditions across the eastern part of the state have led officials with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources to discourage burning in counties to the north, east and south of Wayne.

On Friday, forestry officials issued a red flag warning for 21 counties in eastern North Carolina, including Lenoir, Greene and Duplin counties. A red flag warning means conditions are ripe for wildfires.

Wayne County firefighters have been busy for the past week trying to contain fires that have gotten away from people burning trash or fields.

"We are urging people to postpone any outdoor burning," said Shardul Raval, a forester with the Division of Forest Resources, in the release. "We need much lower wind conditions and a good soaking rain before people should even think about burning."

The increased wildfire activity has led to about 871 wildfires that have burned 2,653 acres so far in 2007. The number one cause is brush fire escape.

On Thursday, fire crews from the Division of Forest Resources and local fire departments fought 129 wildfires across the state. One of those fires burned 160 acres and destroyed five occupied homes as well as six outbuildings in Hoke County. A fire burned 100 acres of forestland in Harnett County. Another fire that started Thursday in McDowell County burned an estimated 300 acres .

Dangerous weather conditions exist throughout the state, but the warning was issued for areas in eastern and western North Carolina where the winds are above 20 mph and the relative humidity are 25 per cent or lower.

For information, call Raval at (919) 733-2162, ext. 236 or 239. For updates on fire activity, go to www.dfr.state.nc.us/fire_control/current_fires.htm.