Hertford County wildfire scorches 71 acres

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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AULANDER – Fueled by high winds and dry conditions, a wildfire burned 71 acres of timber near the St. John community on Sunday afternoon.

John Kittrell. Assistant Ranger with the Hertford County office of the NC Forest Service, said the blaze began as a controlled burn that escaped its containment area.

“The majority of the wildfire was in a cutover area,” Kittrell said. “It did spread into a young pine plantation, but we were able to cut that off before it got in there too deep.”

The area impacted was near Dupont Davis Road, located off NC 561 just west of St. John.

Kittrell said he was made aware of the wildfire between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

“Our [fire] plow was dispatched and we also called in the plow from Bertie County,” he stated. “Between the work of the two plows, we were able to get a containment line around the fire at around 7:30 p.m.”

A scout plane owned by the NC Forest Service and based out of Kinston was used to help direct the plows to the correct location.

In the meantime, volunteers with the St. John and Millennium fire departments were deployed in that area to guard against the possibility of the wildfire spreading to homes and other structures.

“We were able to wrap it up and head home around 9:30 p.m.,” Kitttell concluded.

Sunday’s ultra dry weather conditions led to the National Weather Service in Wakefield issuing a Red Flag Warning on Monday for portions of interior northeast North Carolina. The affected area includes Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, and Northampton counties.

A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Winds on Monday were at 15-to-20 mph out of the west to northwest with gusts up to 35 mph. The relative humidity was low (15 to 25 percent).

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.

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