More aircraft joining fight as Pender wildfire grows

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Submitted: Fri, 06/24/2011 - 3:50am
Updated: Fri, 06/24/2011 - 3:01pm

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Juniper Road Fire in the Holly Shelter Game Land continues to grow. As the fire moves across Pender County and into Onslow County voluntary evacuations are in place and shelters are open.

“It definitely grew yesterday and continues to burn actively,” NC Forest Service Information Officer Bruce MacDonald said.

As of this morning the fire had burned more than 18,000 acres. The Pender County fire grows in all directions. Crews say the most movement is to the northeast, where the wind drove it into Onslow County.

“If the conditions fall off long enough for the fire to settle down somewhere, it might hold there, at least for a while,” MacDonald said. “The problem is it can come back pretty quickly, and we’re looking at wind conditions a lot like yesterday, which were pretty tough. There’s a good chance it will continue to move.”

As of Thursday afternoon there had been no injuries associated with the fire, but there are voluntary evacuation orders along NC 50 and in the Traders Neck area of Pender County.

“We’re still prepared if we need to do a closure of Highway 50 if the fire approaches, if the smoke conditions cause us to close this road for safety sake,” MacDonald said. “We have the things in place so that can happen quickly but right now we don’t have any road closures.”

But on the game land the conditions are dire. Officials say that the fire has moved as much as a couple of miles in a couple of hours. Now additional resources are needed to help fight the fire.

Currently the NC Forest Service is using two helicopters as well as a CL-215 aircraft to make water drops on the blaze. Even still they may need more.

“We have some other aircraft on order, and as we get those in, then we’ll know we have them. We need to get those in,” MacDonald said.

They are also using burnout fire or controlled burns to fight the fire. Firefighters are also hoping for a little help from mother nature.

“It is going to take considerable rainfall with the organic soils that are burning and will continue to smolder for a long time,” MacDonald said.

Despite shelters being opened, no one stay in them last night.

You can also visit for more information on this and other wildfires around the state and across the country.


  • Guest: guest 2 says:

    Guest 461 I agree with you 100%. Well said.

  • stopdafire says:

    Mr.Armchair : You would rather risk lives and homes than
    extinguish a fire of this size under these conditions in a more expeditious manner. Our guys in green are working hard. It’s past time to pull out the big toys.

  • jnybob says:

    Pender is working with the Forestry service trying to protect homes and other buildings. They are working very hard to do that.

  • theboss says:

    You my friend have just opened your mouth in type written form.


  • Smokey Bear says:

    What a bunch of morons, some of you are almost qualified to report for the Star-News. Wildfires are nothing new for that area, the vast majority that burns is worthless scrub, not even timber of any value. The reason it’s not populated is because the soil is poor and is damp most of the year. Let the fire burn and protect the few houses in the area. If you earth muffin, tree huggers had your way it would be like out west a few years ago where they saved the trees for decades and then had fires they couldn’t extinguish.

  • wow says:

    It’s NC Forestry, Pender has had little to do with this. Way to show your brillance.

  • Guest461 says:

    …”armchair law enforcement officers” and just about every other “armchair expert” on these forums that doesn’t know diddly about diddly and couldn’t work their way out of a soggy paper sack. Now I’m reading useless garble written by “armchair firefighters” and “armchair journalists” criticizing the brave people that put their lives on the line in an effort to keep people from losing their homes!

    “Sometimes it’s better for the FOOL to remain quiet, than to open his mouth and remove ALL doubt!”

  • Guest 3505 says:

    The way you should aproach this story, is how is the state providing any of the “State Owned” Helicopters with no pilots. I work for NC DFR, and as of 1 month ago the last Helicopter pilot in the state resigned. I do know that they have people that they can call on to pilot from other states, but this takes time. Also its a little known fact that the state sold the CL-215 Super Scooper plane on E-bay a few months back. Some one should cover on how little the state government wants to put into wildfire suppresion and why. The DFR does all they can with what we are given. Thanks for covering the fire.

  • PILOT says:

    I’m amazed they don’t have pilots. I’m a qualified helo pilot and I’d help in a heartbeat. Unfortunately it’s not that simple though. Oh well…
    Fire is good for the land anyway, just not good for the houses around the land.

  • Jim says:

    I know you are frustrated…I would be too. All these idiots have a negative opinion because all they know is negativity. Don’t stoop to their level. Scumbags will always be scumbags! All of the caring and intelligent people understand the process and certainly know the Forestry Service, Pender County, AND WWAY are doing the best they can with the resources that are available. Go back to doing what you do very well…accurately reporting the events of southeastern North Carolina:)

  • Guest5324 says:

    I draw better conclusions from my own research Pickey. My point was simply to call your station out for being the local Entertainment Tonight! haha Don’t get your drawers in a wad, but I knew you would.

    Concerned Citizen with Common Sense

  • Henry1122 says:

    Dear Scott Pickey – I think that the only person that needs to relax is you. How unprofessional and inappropriate to react that way to a commenter who is stating a relevant fact when you are suppose to be the News Director? I work/live in Pender County and also took your story as being inaccurate since water planes were being used earlier to fight the fire. If you want to correct a commentator feel free to correct those that are making fun of the County’s efforts and degrading the County in this serious situation. I do not use your news station as a relevant source of information because since I have moved here all the locals have told me how WWAY is not a serious new source and is just seen as tabloids to Wilmington residents.

  • WilliamSmith says:

    hahaha….you are sounding like a twelve year old! Obviously there is no requirement for intelligence to post here but there should be an age requirement.
    No wonder this country is going to h*** in a waste basket!!

  • BrunswickCFF says:

    How about you get out there and stop it then, instead of complaining about what those guys are doing!

  • stopdafire says:

    Well – DUH- It’s about time. Why wait so long to attack something that you can stop fast with the proper equipment.

  • Guest31341431 says:

    It’s Pender County LOL!

    PC doesn’t know whether to sh#@ or go blind most of the time.

  • REally?? says:

    With this wind, it is going to be impossible to get the fire under control. Had they used the planes earlier, it WOULD NOT have stopped the fire. Do your research on fires! This one needs 6-8 inces of rain to even begin to help. How many airplanes trips will that take on a 5 mile wide fire? THINK A LITTLE!!

  • Guest28443 says:

    Once the Forrestry team and Firefighters finish battling the Pender/Onslow county fire could someone please send them to this comment board to hose some people down? Getting a little unnecessarily heated and counter productive.

    Why not focus on what you can do vs what you can complain about. AND if you don’t live in Pender county your words of wisdom on what we can and cannot do can be found in my special filing cabinet of “comments stupid people say”.

    Love, a Pender County Resident :)

  • Sunny1 says:

    I totally agree with you. These firefighters are battling this fire in extremely Hot weather. Our office just donated 14 cases of water to them. Maybe the local people should think about how they could help out in any way possible in this terrible situation. Thank you to all these Firefighters out there fighting this battle.

  • jdw says:

    I have been reading the comments on the fire for a couple of days and if there is any person that thinks they can do better then I promise the forest service would welcome the help.

  • debbie says:

    thank you to all the fire fighting personnel who are trying to contain this fire. My daughter, son in law, and 2 grandsons live in NC Sneads Ferry ( He is a Marine staioned at Camp Lejune.) I worry about them since I live in WA state. I keep up on this news and God Bless all of you who are helping in any way to fight this fire. NO ONE knows how it is until they have experienced it and those of you who complain need to pitch in and help in some way for those less fortunate people. God Bless u all. God help those who are childish and complain.
    Debbie K.

  • Concernmom says:

    There have been several meetings that PENDER county fire stations and county comissioners have held. Trying to bring public attendation to this matter, of funds that are cut, man power, it is just like insurance you don’t know your policy until you need it you buy a cheap policy then you wish you spent a few dollars more and got the better policy. well my hats are off to the men and woman that are fighting this fire and covering the rest of the MY community.

  • Guest99 says:

    I’m pretty sure that I saw coverage of this fire when it was only around 100 acres at the beginning of the week–right after it was discovered. It’s too bad WWAY wasn’t already waiting in the middle of the forest with cameras ready for the lightning storm that started it. Maybe that coverage would have satisfied Guest 5324.

  • Guest5324 says:

    WWAY to go TV3, planes and heli’s have already been on that fire for a couple of days. You all need to do a better job at reporting the local news that affects people’s lives, rather than putting all your ducks in RC Soles’s or Brian Berger’s rows. People who actually care about the local community here can do without all of your drummed up drama, and Entertainment Tonight reporting style.

  • Scott Pickey says:

    Guest 5324 – Dude, Relax! We know! We didn’t say it was the first time an aircraft would help fight the fire. If you read the story, it says the state is sending aircraft too to help. We have video of helicopters dumping water yesterday – so we’re well aware it’s not the first time.

    Also, for your information, we’ve had “ducks” in this story since Monday. In fact, the “other station in town” didn’t even know about the fire or cover it Monday.

    Thanks for taking the time to check out our website and leaving a comment!


    Scott Pickey
    WWAY News Director

  • ~ Sharon ~ says:

    Some People are not even worth the unhealthy smokey air that we breathe!!! just saying!!

  • cowgirl says:

    1 month prior to these fires, may, 2011, our state government sold the cl-215 super scooper on e-by. the plane was a 1969 model and was purchased by north carolina in 1998 for $4 million. they sold the plane on e-bay for $445,000.

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