Debris burn turns into minor blaze

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, January 13, 2015

COMO – A local resident learned the hard way here Sunday afternoon that debris burning in the winter months can be dangerous.

What started as a small blaze to dispose of leaves, twigs and limbs turned into a three-alarm fire and burned 1.5 acres in the process.

Hertford County Forest Ranger Michael Hughes issued a citation to a Como man for allowing a fire to escape.

“Things could have been worse had the wind been blowing toward the man’s home,” said Hughes of the blaze which broke out in the Mill Neck area of the county. “Instead, the wind was blowing away from his home, but it spread across a farm field and got into a wooded area.”

Hughes praised the work of the Como and Murfreesboro fire departments.

“They were able to knock the fire down in quick order,” he said.

Hughes said Sunday’s fire should serve as a reminder to local citizens of just how dry debris can get during the winter.

“Be very careful when burning debris during this time of the year; everything is dead and brown,” he noted. “Plus when the air temperature is as cold as we’ve seen it lately, that’s accompanied by low humidity levels, which helps dry things our fairly quickly.

“If you do burn debris, wait until after we have a good day of rain like we had on Monday,” Hughes added. “Check the weather before you burn….see what the two-to-three day forecast holds. Even on a sunny day I would recommend to wait until late afternoon to burn debris. Typically the wind will die down later in the day. And if you start a debris fire, stay with it at all times to maintain it.”

Other recommendations include starting with a small pile of debris and add to it; have a water hose or water bucket at hand; and have a rake and/or shovel.

“It’s only January, so we still have the dry winter months ahead; vegetation will remain dead and brown until the spring arrives,” Hughes stressed.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal