Triad Forestry Service fighting wildfires in NC mountains

Triad Forestry Service Fighting Wildfires

NORTH CAROLINA -- There are currently at least 20 wildfires burning in Western North Carolina.

At least 25 communities are under a state of emergency.

Just over a dozen acres have been destroyed in Chimney Rock State Park and South Mountains State Park.

More than 5,000 firefighters are working to put out the flames along with hundreds of NC Forestry Service workers, including 18 from the Triad.

While it’s great that local workers are able to assist our neighbors to the west, 2 Wants To Know found out, helping there leave us vulnerable should anything major happen here.

More than half of the Triad's division of the NC Forestry Service are fighting the wildfires in the mountains.

The priority there is to protect families and their homes.

But with most of our local resources gone, Richard Chellberg with the NC Forestry Service worry about what would happen if a forest fire breaks out in the Triad.

"It would take very little, very little for a fire to get out and get going with the kind of conditions we have now,” said Chellberg. “If that happens, I am concerned that we don't have the resources that we need to take care of it."

Chellberg says the NC Forestry Service usually has at least two people working in each county.

But right now, each county in the Triad’s district only has one and there are three counties in the Triad with none!

They’re short staffed right now because they 18 out of their 34 people to the mountains to help fight the wildfires.

Chellberg says he’s proud of the fact that our local Triad forestry service workers are able to help fight the wildfires.

However, the conditions here are also dangerously dry, and Chellberg says our local fire departments aren't really trained to fight wildfires.

"It would not take much to get a good, big fire going that we might have to just let go. We will have help from the volunteer fire departments. They are always a great help,” said Chellberg. “But we won't really have the capabilities that we normally have."

Governor McCrory issued a state of emergency and issued a burn ban for 25 counties across the State.

None of those counties are in the Triad but we're also not in the clear either.

Several counties in the western Triad are under a moderate drought.

With that being said, NC Forestry Service officials say you should not burn anything until the area receives some rain.
Officials now believe arson is to blame for the ignition of most, if not all of the wildfires in North Carolina.

For more information, or to report people setting suspicious fires, click here.

(© 2016 WFMY)


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