FORT FISHER, NC (WECT) – The fort that protected the original Port of Wilmington went up in flames Wednesday, and it was all an effort to recreate history.
"We're going to burn to remove the Yaupon to make way for the grass that was historically here," Bill Walker with the NC Forest Service said.
The Yaupon Holly is an aggressively dense shrub that has overrun the mounds that make up Fort Fisher. It's also choked off other native plants that aid in erosion control.
Officials chose fire to remove the plants because it was considered the safest, cheapest, and most effective method.
Tours of the site were temporarily suspended, but that didn't stop crowds from watching as the historic landmark went up in flames.
Officials say they have been planning for the controlled-burn for more than two years. They hope it will bring the site back to its original appearance, as well as allow for nearly maintenance-free conditions.
However, it could take years and many more fires before the plant is completely eradicated.