Crews hope for rain as wildfire at Holly Shelter Game Lands continues to burn

Wildfire at Holly Shelter Game Lands still 1,226 acres, now 79 percent contained
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The Juniper Road Two wildfire in Pender County continues to burn nearly two weeks after first igniting from a lightning strike.

Officials with the North Carolina Forest Service say the only thing that will put the fire out completely is rain. As of Monday, the fire is 43 percent contained. While the eastern portion of the more than 1,200 acre fires is well-coaled, the western portion is cause for concern for fire crews.

“Our major concern is on the western half of the fire,” said Shane Hardee, Deputy Incident Commander with the NC Forest Service. “Where the organics have all ignited and the fire is actually burning down into the ground. That’s causing us some control problems as far as keeping the fire within its current footprint.”

No buildings are in danger right now, but Hardee says if these dry conditions continue, the fire will continue to have the potential to spread.

“Large fires like this get off of Holly Shelter game lands, and certainly pose a risk to the developed areas outside of the game lands,” said Hardee. “This fire had the potential to do that on the initial run, and it still has the potential to do that. That will be very dependent on the rain that we receive in the future, or lack thereof.”

As far as the environmental impacts a wildfire like this has on the game lands, Hardee says the plant life there actually depends on wildfires to grow and adapt, even if nearby neighbors do not.

“This is a fire dependent ecosystem and, so, fire is actually part of this environment,” Hardee said. “The plant species here are adapted to fire and many of them require fire to reproduce.”

More than 30 firefighters worked Monday to contain the fire. Hardee says if dry conditions persist, the fire could continue for months to come.

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