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N.C. Forest Service monitoring landfill fire in Pender County

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 10:39 AM EST
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HAMPSTEAD, N.C. (WECT) - The N.C. Forest Service says a landfill fire in Pender County that ignited nearly two weeks ago will likely continue to burn for the next several months.

According to a news release, the fire was first reported on Monday, Feb. 15 at a debris landfill located on Running Deer Trail near Hampstead and the Holly Shelter Game Land.

“Upon arrival, fire officials discovered that the 25- to 30-foot landfill consisting of woody debris and soil, approximately four acres in size, was burning despite several inches of rainfall during the previous few days,” the news release stated.

Forest officials say due to the size and composition of the debris pile, extinguishing the fire is not a feasible task and poses an unnecessary risk to personnel and equipment.

The primary concern with the fire, which is expected to burn for quite some time, is its proximity to the Holly Shelter Game Land, Hampstead, and other surrounding communities.

“The traditional higher winds and lower relative humidity common to this area during spring could allow embers from the landfill to ignite the game land or wooded areas near Hampstead, areas already impacted by several historic wildfires,” according to the news release.

In response, the N.C. Forest Service, Pender County Emergency Management, and Pender EMS and Fire, conducted a controlled burn of 153 acres on Feb. 24 to eliminate any wood-like fuel between the landfill fire and areas of concern.

Forest officials say future weather conditions will now determine how much longer the fire will burn, with wet conditions slowing the fire and dry conditions accelerating it.

“Smoke from the landfill fire is a concern associated with wind direction, specifically winds coming from the west, north and east. Residents and travelers in the area could be impacted by smoke, and in the interest of safety, may need to allow for extra travel time or find alternate routes,” the news release stated.

Emergency personnel will continue to monitor the fire until it is no longer a threat.

Smoke advisories may be issued before forecast smoke affects populated areas or roadways.

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