LUMBERTON — The wildfire that burned more than 500 acres of Carolina Bay woodlands near White Lake in Bladen County was 100 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon, according to the state Forest Service.
The cause of the fire that started Monday and eventually scorched 553 acres between N.C. 41, N.C. 53, and N.C. 210 has not been determined.
“They’re still trying to figure that out,” Brian Haines, a Forest Service public information officer, said Thursday.
No one was injured and no structures were damaged by the blaze.
Firefighters were on site Thursday to mop up hot spots close to the fire line, he said. There still are pockets of burning organic soil, stumps and logs that will continue to produce a large amount of smoke for the next several weeks until the area receives enough rainfall to extinguish the smoldering fuels. That could happen this weekend.
“We’re hoping it rains Saturday and puts some water on it,” Haines said.
The firefighting effort has entered the monitoring phase, said Chris Meggs, fire team public information officer. Some of the 24 Forest Service firefighters who were on the scene Thursday will be sent back to their home units, but others will remain to monitor the charred acreage until all hot spots are extinguished.
“Everything looks good,” Meggs said. “There’s still some smoke. Hopefully we’ll get some rain early next week and this one will be over.”
Residents need to be aware that smoke will still be a concern for driving conditions over the next several weeks, especially during the morning and evening hours, according to Haines. This could also be made much worse if there is fog.
A lot of smoke is rising from smoldering debris and organic soil, Meggs said.
“The smoke’s a lot better today,” he said Thursday.
Depending upon wind direction, N.C. 41, N.C. 53, and N.C. 210 could be impacted, according to information from the Forest Service. Drivers should avoid these areas if possible, allow extra time for traveling, and use their headlights for safety.
Residents are urged to use fire responsibly, especially during spring fire season, according to the Forest Service. People being careless with fire is the No. 1 cause of wildfires in the state. March, April, and May are traditionally the worst months for wildfires in North Carolina.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]