SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) - Firefighters are still on the scene Monday morning where a large fire broke out Sunday on Atkinson Road near South Shore Drive in Surf City.
“They’re working through all the hot spots now, making sure we get this thing extinguished so we can start that investigation promptly this morning," Surf City Fire Chief Allen Wilson said. “Some firefighters will work their whole career and never see a fire half this big."
No injuries have been reported in connection to the fire at this point. Wilson said many of the homes involved in the fire were secondary residences and most were unoccupied at the time.
Wilson said crews from Topsail Fire, North Topsail Fire and Pender County responded to the scene at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday.
“When our units arrived on scene there were at least three [homes] already burning," Wilson said. "Our crews went to work quickly to try to stop the progression of the fire. Unfortunately, the fire did spread to approximately six units.”
Photos sent in by viewers showed multiple buildings engulfed in flames. Dramatic video shows flames curling over the roof of a three story house and plumes of black smoke coming from the structures as the fire burns.
WECT’s Bryant Reed spoke with a witness who was out boating in the area.
Tom Haether said, “I was going to save my boat, that was my first feeling and then I realized that people were trapped at the end of the peninsula. So I went to the end of the Peninsula, docked there, another boat showed up a little while later and we were able to get people off that wanted to leave and I got 3 people and a couple of dogs.”
Haether also says he witnessed an explosion during the fire.
“It was very hot, when I took the boat past it, it was amazingly hot and just as I passed one of the propane tanks blew up on one of the buildings and blew debris all over the canal. I got out just in time,” he said.
Another witness says his first reaction was to stop and pray as he watched the fire spread.
“Pray, first thoughts. And saying ‘I hope no one was in the house’ and then we saw the next house with just a little bit of fire on it and in 10 minutes or less, that [house] was fully in flames,” said Kevin Snyder.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.