North Carolina fire reaches 3500 acres

The Pulp Road Fire in Brunswick County reached 3,500 acres today and was still at zero percent containment. The 15,000-acre preserve where it’s burning crosses Brunswick and Columbus counties and is designated a National Natural Landmark. According to the N.C. Forest Service, the area was cleared of unburned fuels outside the fire perimeter, and crews had mopped up spot fires.

Pulp Road Fire

The N.C. Forest Service — one of several state forestry agencies in the U.S. that are named “Forest Service” — has mobilized its Red Incident Management Team to take over the fire. Resources earlier today included multiple engine and tractor plow strike teams plus aircraft. The PortCityDaily out of Wilmington reported that personnel will staff the fire through the weekend.

The state DEQ raised air pollution alerts to red in Brunswick County and orange in both New Hanover and Pender counties.

According to the Wilmington Star News, the fire initially was lit as a controlled burn in the Green Swamp Game Land and Green Swamp Nature Preserve, but yesterday the fire burned out of control and was classified as a wildfire. It nearly doubled in size since Thursday night. Smoke is thick in some areas and it is affecting visibility; officials have urged drivers to use caution.

State and local officials urged residents with respiratory issues to remain indoors.

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22 thoughts on “North Carolina fire reaches 3500 acres”

  1. Thanks for the discussion. I’ll just leave my final thoughts here.

    I’m seeing a pattern of poorly experienced organizations loving the forest to death by unwise prescribed burning, whether it’s weather/fuels conditions, inadequate fire breaks, incomplete mopup… the results being negative.

    The public tolerance for this behavior is wearing thin.

    There are parks departments and wildlife departments across the country performing these negative consequences burns more than ever.

    This is being pushed by everyone’s favorite NGO and I question the overall wisdom of these activities.

    I know that most people’s intentions are good but the inexperience shows. There’s a time and a place for prescribed fire. Avoid tunnel vision in a quest to meet managers objectives. Work with the people that are affected by these burns and repair the damage done to public trust.

    Remember, people are watching their public servants and are not stupid.

    Be safe

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  2. The burn used soft breaks- in this instance a pocosin that historically held water to the point that fire would go out on its own. Unfortunately, while utilizing soft fire breaks are very common here in NC, they are becoming increasingly unreliable. In this case, the fire very actively backed through that break. Also, this was a helicopter burn, so resources were working the flanks with safer and better access. Since these lines were preexisting, it’s a little different than chasing the escape through the swamp by going direct

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  3. EcoFirefighter,

    Is the Green Swamp Game Land the same pocosin ecosystem as the adjoining TNC preserve? If the answer is yes (and I’ve already looked it up), then according to you, how is it possible for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to conduct a burn in an area that they cannot safely put in firelines with either heavy equipment or hand crews?

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  4. Chukar,

    The forest resources in this case are natural resources. When you look at the land ownership it is 99% nature preserve so the resources at risk are actually in a fire adapted ecosystem.

    And I do say Good Job to NCFS because if you are at all familiar with Pocosin or Carolina Bay ecosystems you know that you cannot safely put in firelines either with hand crews or heavy equipment. They made a great choice in not putting firefighters in unsafe places just to keep it small.

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  5. Local,

    You left out your next logical conclusion: people are bad for the environment, right? Houses, cars, food packaging and people.

    I promise you that I’m not attacking. Your defensive position of what occurred in NC can help identify the issues that led to these sorts of negative outcomes. Why do I think it was a negative outcome? Because if I read the burn plan I don’t think it said to burn the entire property of 16k acres with the intensity that occurred.

    Were there adequate holding resources based upon the conditions? What was the experience level of the burn boss? What did the weather forecast say before ignitions?

    If the big burnout was influenced by the value of timberland investment property adjacent to the government land, I say: Good Job NCFS! People demand forest products in order to live healthy lives. The US SE is an amazing sustainable multiple-use forest resources that is major contributor to the national and world economy that deserves protection and sound management. I don’t want it or the people’s land (government owned) burned down. Thank you.

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  6. Your house on developed wildlands is not good for “forest resource.” Your car is not good for “forest resource.” The packaging your food comes in is not good for “forest resource.”

    This fire actually did a lot of good and the fire effects should be pretty interesting. No values at risk, though, I’d be curious how much the timber company land to the north influenced the go/no go on the 14,500 acre burnout. Maybe they were protecting “forest resource,” who knows?

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  7. This escaped prescribed burn turned wildfire is not good for the forest resource no matter what anyone says. People should lose their jobs over this…but they won’t. Ridiculous

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  8. Actually, the statistic for USFS prescribed fires is a 99.84% success rate. So less than 0.2% escape and are declared wildfires. This doesn’t account for state, private, or DOI fires, but it gives you an idea. Regardless of what you do for a living, a 99%+ success rate seems amazingly good. Most of us who are burn bosses take a huge amount of pride in successfully doing prescribed fires on our home districts, parks, or refuges. After all, we work and play in these woods ourselves, and care deeply for them. Beyond a bit of overtime, we don’t get paid any extra to take on the risk of prescribed fire, our primary motivation is protecting the resource.

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  9. DivoMartini, the fact of the matter is prescribed fire has approximately the same success rate as initial attack nationally, about 97% or so. Prescribed fire is a critically important tool for managing fuels and forest health and it’s use must be expanded rather than curtailed.

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  10. B- the size is no surprise, please reference my comment above.

    If burn bosses were fired every time a fire got out of the box, nobody would be a burn boss

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  11. It’s at 16000 acres estimated now.

    Ridiculous. Who is gonna be fired for this? Nobody, likely.

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  12. It seems that it never fails that our many forest service units insist on controlled burns, for the good of the forest. Many times the burn gets out of control and everyone suffers. Enough with their uncontrolled burns, let nature care for the forest, at least the burn won’t be on purpose.

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  13. Is this a fed or state incident or both……just curious is all……..we have been having a few fires in VA…….we are officially in a moderate drought now with no recovery expected for several months…..Bone dry we are…….

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    1. Unlike some Western states with huge sections of federal land, there’s not much in North Carolina.
      North Carolina federal lands

      click for full-size map

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  14. It doubled in size due to an aggressive burnout that began on Thursday and by the end of it they will have burned out the whole swamp. So it’ll show 16,000 acres soon

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