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Pender wildfire grows to 10,000 acres; State of Emergency likely

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- A wildfire burning in Pender County since the weekend has now grown to about 10,000 acres and is about five miles wide, according to an e-mail from County Manager Rick Benton forwarded to WWAY. Benton also says the so-called Juniper Road Fire is moving toward NC 53 and NC 50 in the Maple Hill area, but no homes are in danger at this time.

Benton says Forestry is plowing multiple fire lines across the Holly Shelter Game Land in hopes of keeping the fire from crossing the highways. NC 50 and NC 53 will likely be impacted with smoke today, and there will likely be detours in place, according to the e-mail.

Benton also says weather is a big factor. Thunderstorms forecast for later today could produce winds that could push the fire toward Hampstead. Meanwhile, officials say the area needs six to eight inches of rain to put the fire out.

The Health Department, DSS and the Red Cross are preparing to open shelters later today if needed, Benton says. The first shelter will be Burgaw Middle, and one in Topsail Township may be opened depending on the fire conditions later.

County Commission Chair George Brown is expected to declare State of Emergency today.

The Juniper Road Fire is not the only fire in Pender County. Benton says there is also a 60-acre fire near Atkinson.

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Boat Access

are the boating access areas closed as well? was just wondering since they've closed the game land to the public.