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Trees and Debris Continue to Smolder

By Catherine M. Welch

Wilmington, NC – Fire officials are now saying Monday's woods fire in Pender County burned 1,100 acres. That's down from the 1,500 acre estimate.

An unofficial count of 83 firefighters and emergency officials along with an unknown number of volunteer firefighters, EMS, Red Cross and Salvation Army workers pitched into fight off the massive blaze and take care of both residents and firefighters.

Firefighters from around the region spent much of Tuesday monitoring smoldering pockets of woods after fully containing the fire Tuesday morning.

The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources' Ned Berg says a preventative burn last winter, the hard work of dozens of firefighters, and dying winds on Monday kept the flames from destroying homes.

Whenever we can keep someone from getting hurt, and whenever we can save someone's property, you know, we've been pretty successful.

Fire officials say while the flames stopped literally in some people's front yards, it will be a long time before the smell of this massive ground fire leaves the quiet streets of this rural Pender County neighborhood.

Chasing the Spot Fires

With the blaze fully contained firefighters are now focused on putting out the remaining pockets of smoldering trees and branches.

Burnt tree trunks, junked cars and clumps of bushes continued to send up smoke a day after the massive woods fire tore through a rural patch of Pender County. Flames stopped just yards away from some of the nearby homes.

The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources' Teresa Odom says the challenge on that first day was chasing the burning embers that would jump out ahead of the main fire, causing spot fires.

When the fire started out it was spotting rapidly and continuously. So you're looking at probably bunches and bunches, I couldn't give you a number of actual spots. It was spotting a half-a-mile right on.

Fire investigators are now trying to figure out how a controlled burn got out of control, while the Division of Forest Resources adds up the cost of fighting the blaze.