High winds turn controlled burn into brush fire

By Matt Harrelson

February 20, 2014

Matt Harrelson

HAMLET —High winds and dry grass helped convert a controlled garbage burn on private property into a 5-acre brush fire Thursday afternoon that quickly spread to a neighbor’s mobile home.

The situation occurred at approximately 3 p.m. in the backyard of a home of a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy on Eddies Lane, located off Green Chapel Road near Hamlet. The National Weather Service reported steady winds of 17 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph, that helped the blaze quickly spread from the initial trash pile to across the yard and onto a neighbor’s mobile home.

The grass around the trailers was crispy and black and the scalded vinyl siding of the trailer home began to curl up after Hamlet firefighters put out the blaze. Hamlet Fire Chief David Knight said the only structural damage was the vinyl siding on one home but it mostly burnt all around the trailers and cars.

“We were able to keep mostly everything from burning or melting,” said Knight.

Tim McFadden, County Ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, said a county man was burning his trash, and it got out of control.

“As soon as he saw it was escaping his pile, he called 911,” said McFadden. “Even though we’ve had a lot of precipitation over the last couple of weeks, with the temperatures rising and wind like this, the grass has really dried out.”

McFadden said the owner of the damaged trailer indicated the fire caused a $1,000 worth of damage to the home. There was no information available if the man who started the fire was charged or cited for his actions.