Multiple county agencies on standby for 2,000 acre fire

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 7:11 PM EDT
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HOLLY RIDGE, N.C. (WITN) - More than 13 emergency response agencies from as far away as Sampson County were on standby Thursday at the Holly Ridge fire department as crews continue working to contain a 2,000 acre forest fire in Pender County.

Pender County Emergency Management, the North Carolina Forest Service, and Onslow County Emergency Services are coordinating a plan to contain a forest fire the forest service says began Tuesday, August 2nd, in the Holly Shelter Game Lands.

Officials say the fire stayed put, but is currently still active two miles away from Highway 50 near Holly Ridge, posing a potential threat to the community if it spreads farther.

“The fire is moving in the direction of Onslow County,” said Onslow County Emergency Services Director Norman Bryson.

“Yeah, yesterday we didn’t know what it was but you could see it all the way to Jacksonville,” said City Cafe’s Heather Brady.

Light-colored smoke continued to curl above the trees as backup awaited at the county line to help fight the fire.

The state Forest Service said the cause is believed to be a lightning strike.

Officials said 21 personnel including 12 tractor plow units worked to contain 25% of the fire that started on Tuesday of last week.

As the fire pushes towards the county line, EMS and the forest service say it’s a race against the terrain and the elements.

“The vegetation is very dry it’s also very difficult to mitigate because there are wet pockets in the pocosin fuels that we have here in the Holly Shelter Game Lands so it does present a challenge for the firefighting efforts not to mention the high heat index values that we’ve had the past couple of weeks really,” said the forest service’s Carrie McCullen.

" The forestry is trying to work to get in their plow lines we are also working to make sure that we have fire departments and stuff in place in case it does move into Onslow and we need to do any kinds of structural protections,” said Bryson

“I mean, I’m lucky that we have them and they’re doing everything they can and get it controlled,” said Brady.

Officials said Thursday there were no evacuation orders in place in Onslow County for anyone in Holly Ridge, and say with the marshes and embankments on the far side of the game lands, there was no immediate danger to the businesses and homes near Highway 50.

Onslow County Emergency Services and the state forest service encourage anyone in an area with heavy smoke to avoid driving and to limit time outdoors.

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