Forest service: Nearby railroad ‘probable’ cause of last month’s wildfire in Brunswick

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The cause of a wildfire in Brunswick County that burned nearly 500 acres of woods last month near Leland has been linked to a nearby railroad track.

The wildfire burned 565 acres of woods on April 6, but firefighters were able to protect 89 homes from being destroyed. The fire, which was in the Mount Misery area near Leland, was reported at about 2 p.m., and under control by 7:30 p.m., according to Brunswick County Fire Marshal Scott Garner.

Related story: Wildfire burns 500 acres in Brunswick County

According to Bill Walker, the Cape Fear area ranger for the N.C. Forest Service, the “probable” cause of the fire was a nearby railroad, which had a train pass about 15 minutes before the fire started.

It’s listed as “probable” on the fire report,” because we cannot definitively rule out every other cause known to man,” Walker said. According to the report, the fire caused $980,000 worth of damage. No one was injured in the fire.

Five homes on Heirloom Drive were damaged from the fire, but no homes were destroyed. Residents of about 75 homes on Heirloom Drive and Butler Road–both off Mount Misery Road–were evacuated due to the fire.

“This was a big fire. This was probably the worst one we had in a long time. This was probably the worst we had since the Lakewood fire,” Garner said, referring to a wildfire near Ocean Isle Beach that burned 50 acres in 2007.

The N.C. Forestry Service responded with eight tractor plows, three single-engine air tankers, two helicopters and a scout plane to survey the fire.

“Fire crew-wise, we had Leland, Navassa, Northwest, New Hanover County, Winnabow, Southport, Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Supply and had some others on standby,” Garner said. “The sheriff’s department had 15 to 20 deputies up there helping us secure the neighborhoods, doing traffic control, helping evacuate people.”

Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or caroline.c@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter: @Cgcurran