By Jeff Rivenbark - email
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Several brush fires were reported in the WBTV coverage area on Monday and, in some cases, the fires threatened homes.
Small grass fires were reported in north Charlotte, Davidson and Rock Hill, but larger fires which burned several acres occurred in Watauga County, NC, and Lancaster County, SC.
Around noon on Monday, firefighters were called to extinguish a fire which scorched a large, grassy area along Interstate 77 in north Charlotte. The fire was located in the median between the north- and southbound lanes of I-77, just north of East W.T. Harris Boulevard (exit 18).
In nearby Davidson, a grass fire was reported at 4:58 p.m. in the median of I-77 near Griffith Street (exit 30). Firefighters from Davidson and Cornelius responded to the fire and they had it under control by 5:18 p.m.
In Rock Hill, firefighters were called to 124 Bynum Avenue in reference to a brush fire around 2:30 p.m. Victor Randall, 69, told police he was attempting to burn leaves and the fire got out of control. A large area was burned next to Randall's home. He was issued a citation for unlawful burning.
According to the Watauga County Fire Marshal's office, a tree fell on an electrical line around 3:15 p.m. on Monday and sparked a forest fire in the Green Briar/Rocky Knob area between Bamboo and Browns Chapel Roads.
Officials said it was difficult to fight the fire due to the strong winds. At times, wind gusts were up to 50 miles-per-hour. The location was also problematic because it was in a steep area with rocky terrain and lots of trees that had fallen during an ice storm last year.
Although several homes in the area were threatened by the fire, none of them were damaged. The fire was contained around 10 p.m. and residents were allowed back in their homes by midnight.
Just south of Charlotte, 13 acres of forest land was burned in Lancaster County, SC, Monday evening. Officials said one structure was threatened, but the fire was stopped before it could do any damage.
According to Scott Hawkins with the S.C. Forestry Commission, firefighters fought more than 60 fires across the Palmetto state on Monday.
The N.C. Division of Forest Resources released a statement Tuesday afternoon which said there have been 211 wildfires from the coast to the mountains last weekend. The fires burned nearly 678 acres.
State officials say the No. 1 cause of wildfires in North Carolina is human carelessness.
"People need to use common sense if they intend to burn yard debris such as sticks and leaves," said Wib Owen, North Carolina's state forester. "Check the weather report to be sure that conditions will allow for safe burning and only burn when winds are light. Do not burn on windy days and if unsure, call your local fire department to see if they think it's a good idea to burn that day."
Officials say strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will only cause any fire to get out of control quickly.
"Slightly cooler conditions, coupled with much less wind, should promote a less volatile situation Tuesday, but until we get a good, soaking rain, brush fires will be a daily concern all across the WBTV viewing area," said WBTV Meteorologist Al Conklin.