Weekend lightning sparks wildfire


PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The hot weather and lack of rain is beginning to take a toll across the Cape Fear region.

Saturday lightning in Pender County caused a fire in the Holly Shelter Game Land. Today the North Carolina Forest Service Fire Team worked to contain the flames.

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“This fire’s going to burn,” District Forester Shane Hardee said. “Without sufficient rainfall there will be smoke coming from it for the next month or more, so we are going to try and do our best to keep it contained.”

When you enter the Holly Shelter Game Land a sign warns that you are entering a fire danger area. That was especially true Monday. Lightning Saturday sparked a 100-acre fire. By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, smoke was spotted. The Forest Service has been fighting to contain the blaze ever since.

“When you have fires like this the main thing we want to do is cut off the fuel. This is done by the tractor plow units,” Fire Team Information Officer Chris Meggs.

“There’s a difference between containment and control, Hardee said. “We do have a line around the fire right now so it’s not progressing or growing in size, but there is tremendous escape potential on the fire.”

Firefighters say this escape potential is because of the high winds coming off the coast. Wind gusts could push the fire to greater lengths. For now, though, there are no homes in danger.

Officials on scene say that fire is a growing concern in this region due to dry weather and lack of rain.

“The drought is definitely our issue right now,” Hardee said. “We need significant rains. If we don’t get them we’ll continue to have fires.”

“If we have these lightning storms, if there’s not enough rain, yes, we’re going to have more fires,” Meggs said.

This area is known for its forest fires, most famously for the 1986 Topsail fire, which was 76,000 acres.

Officials say fire is part of the environment here. At this point they are just hoping for some raindrops.


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