Forest Service investigates more than 130 area fires so far in 2019

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — High potential for fire danger Tuesday across the Cape Fear. The North Carolina Forest Service is looking for any burn that could get out of control.

Since January 1, crews have investigated 131 fires across southeastern North Carolina.
District Ranger Mike Malcolm says the southeast hasn’t had a traditional fire season since 2011. He says lack of rain could change that narrative this year.

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“We get to use fire as a tool,” Malcolm said. “We see the benefits of what fire can do for the environment and with that we are also charged with putting out fires because we know how dangerous they can be. You see fires in California and the western part of the states and we have those same fires right here if the conditions are right.”

Malcolm says the number one cause is debris burning so never leave your fire unattended, especially when the conditions are ripe.

One Brunswick County man’s garage went ablaze after strong winds engulfed it in flames.



“I ran there and tried to get some of the stuff out just instinctively and the heat was so intense I had to just let it go,” Castile Robbins said. “Normally I stand out there by it, but this time I just forgot and it doesn’t take long for a fire to spread and get away from you.”

Robbins built his garage in Leland 30 years ago, but on February 26 his garage burned to ashes.

“I set a fire to burn some trash went into the house and forgot about it so that was careless on my part,” Robbins said. “I burn trash quite regular and normally I stand out there, but this time I just forgot.”

Now, all that’s left are charred car parts and crumbles of debris.

“Everyday or so when I can pull myself together to look at it, I go out and take out some stuff,” Robbins said. “It’s kind of depressing.”

Malcolm says Robbins’ fire was at the brink of fire season and on a high risk day.

“The one thing that we don’t have going for us is the topography which really affects the way fire behaves, but we do have the winds and the fuel types we have here in this area are very flammable,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm says, while we did have a lot of rain from Florence, we are now drier than usual this time of year. These dry fuels like leaves and debris are especially volatile across the Cape Fear until May, which is why it’s important to stay with the fire until it’s out.

Robbins knows that well.

“Don’t leave it because it doesn’t take long for a fire to get away from you,” Robbins said.

Malcolm adds you must have a burn permit at all times in Brunswick County.