Homes destroyed by wildfire, dozens seek shelter in Bladen Co. - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Homes destroyed by wildfire, dozens seek shelter in Bladen County

Shelters open in Bladen County. Shelters open in Bladen County.

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - More than 30 people were forced to leave their homes Tuesday night due to the wildfires. The Bethlehem United Methodist Church opened as a shelter and many spent the night there on cots.

Four homes on Simmons Road and a barn were destroyed by the fire. Firefighters are hoping to get an upper hand on the fire to avoid more problems as the temperatures reach the mid 90s again Wednesday.

The fire in the Singletary Lake area of Bladen County flared up again Tuesday afternoon. Gusty winds from nearby thunderstorms forced firefighters to pull back as the fire grew.

According to the Forest Service, due to gusty winds from thunderstorms to the north, the fire grew to an estimated 1,200-1,300 acres and forced firefighters to withdraw firefighting assets to safer locations.

Shifting winds from severe thunderstorms in Sampson and Cumberland County created strong winds and hindered firefighting efforts.  The fire is still a threat because of the erratic wind patterns.

Firefighters had the blaze contained earlier Tuesday, but strong winds from the afternoon thunderstorms helped to restart the fire. 

Those same thunderstorms prompted Flash Flood Warnings, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings as well as reports of quarter-sized hail. However, no rain has occurred in the area of the fire.

Daytime temperatures in Bladen County topped 100 degrees in the northern part of the county.

Shelters will remain open as long as the evacuation order is in effect, but residents were allowed back in their homes Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 WECT. All rights reserved.

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