Wednesday, November 29, 2023

‘Fighting fire with fire’: NCFS sets perimeter of wildfire, burn data could fluctuate

Mike Malcolm offered a video update from West Brunswick High School, showing the permiter of the wildfire which is set for firefighters to begin extinguishing. (Courtesy NCFS)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — As firefighting crews in the Supply area attempt to manage a wildfire that grew to 16,000 acres, the N.C. Forest Service says acreage may fluctuate as more data comes in.

CATCH UP: Two days in, wildfire expands to 16K acres in Brunswick County

The crews from NCFS’s have been conducting firing operations over the last few days, to push the fire to the road’s edge within Green Swamp Nature Preserve, in order to better contain it.

Strike teams were used, including dropping aerial ignition devices from a helicopter into the preserve to help eliminate collected fuels. According to the fire service’s Saturday update, that area of the preserve had not been burned since the 1950s. By burning off old brush, it provides more safety for crews to battle and contain the fire.

“To help fight fire with fire per se,” operations section chief trainee Mike Malcolm said in a video recorded at West Brunswick High School where the incident command post is set up.

The wildfire reached N.C. Highway 211 Saturday and increased acreage by 4,500 from Friday. Today, teams have broken up the plan of attack into four different divisions across the map of the fire, Malcolm indicated.

“Ground resources are evaluating the situation,” he said in the video. “We’re starting to improve our lines that we do have established and start our mop-up operations with our engines and things to eliminate any hotspots along the perimeter.”

They’ll also be able to collect better measurement data in the field, which means acreage may vary than what’s been reported. The fire is at 0% containment, with roughly 81 people on site.

“Our main objective is to keep the fire in the block of the Green Swamp Nature Preserve. If we can accomplish that, then we will be able to put this wildfire to rest,” NCFS Red Team Incident Commander Greg Smith said in a press release.

Smoke from the fire and early morning fog made areas of highways 211 and 17 low visibility. It could return in coming days as well.

Part of Highway 211 remains closed between Little Macedonia and Camp Branch roads until further notice. A detour is set up around Camp Branch, Makatoka and Little Macedonia roads.

Drivers are asked to remain cautious due to the smoke pollution and avoid travel in the area if possible.

Brunswick County remains under a code red by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality air division, meaning the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.

New Hanover has moved from orange to yellow, meaning moderate impacts.

Pender, Columbus, Sampson, Bladen and Duplin counties are in the orange, so anyone with sensitivities to smoke should avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

There is a temporary flight restriction of 1,500 feet above the Green Swamp Preserve until further notice and flying drones in the area isn’t allowed.

The preserve is closed until further notice.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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