PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Much of North Carolina is under a burn ban, and for good reason.
The combination of wind, low humidity and warm temperatures made Pender County ripe for wildfires this weekend.
Pender County experienced one of the largest wildfires this weekend, which consumed nearly 700 acres near the Holly Shelter Game Land.
In some spots, the fire was so powerful that it jumped across a dirt road and burned through everything in sight.
“It just jumps right across the road. There’s so much heat there, it’s just dropping embers as it goes,” said David Rooks with the NC Forest Service. “Ahead of the fire, you’ll have a lot of small embers and ashes falling that are still hot and burning, and they’ll fall out in front of the fire.”
Eight emergency response departments showed up to try and contain the fire Saturday afternoon. The Forest Service used plows to dig perimeters around burning areas. After hours of burning, crews said they were finally able to contain it around 10 p.m.
With the windy conditions, plow drivers were on stand-by again Monday afternoon. Pat Sellers was waiting inside Holly Shelter Game Land ready to go if any fires popped up.
“We would unload and try to get lines around it and hope for the best,” Sellers said. “With the wind the way it is, we’re really kind of concerned about it today.”
Rooks says typically wildfires don’t pop up until early March or April, but with the warm temperatures lately, it looks like an early start to fire season.
“This is a large fire to be this early in the fire season, which we aren’t in, what you would typically call fire season yet,” Rooks said. “So it could be a sign of things to come and it could be a very busy year.
The Forest Service says it advises against any type of burning until the weather gets a little cooler and wetter.