Officials concerned toxic runoff could reach Lake Waccamaw

Reported by Max Winitz - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Carolina Tire Sales in Chadbourn was destroyed when a fire broke out early Tuesday morning.

Firefighters spent over 17 hours trying to battle the blaze and spent nearly two days trying to put it out.

Investigators say the fire was arson and are looking for three people they say could be responsible for the flames.

Now, authorities are concerned water used to fight the fire could be contaminating Lake Waccamaw.

According to town officials, toxic runoff water from the blaze has entered into the Dunn Swamp, killing dozens of fish.

To further prevent runoff from entering into waterways, firefighters placed stacks of hay on the property Thursday.

Though Lake Waccamaw is about 20 miles away from Chadbourn, State Park Officials say they are keeping a close eye on the area, because some of the runoff could end up in the lake.

"A lot of the drainage from the swamps in this area drains into Lake Waccamaw," said ranger Toby Hall."A fire of this scale, there's a good chance some of that runoff could eventually get into the swamp areas here."

According to Hall, the water in Lake Waccamaw and the surrounding Cove Swamp are safe for now.

"We have a lot of volunteers that are helping us now, and we will monitor the PH of the water," said Hall.  "If there is any change in the PH, that's something to consider."

Hall added that the person(s) responsible for the fire could face an even stiffer penalty if organizations like the EPA get involved.

Town Manager Stevie Cox said a reward could be offered for information that leads to the arrest of the people involved in starting the fire.


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