February 27, 2014

Wildfire risk high today, authorities warn

Crews in Gaston County battled a pair of blazes Wednesday that scorched more than 7 1/2 acres.

Authorities say low humidity and gusty winds will create a high risk of wildfires Thursday across the Carolinas.

This comes one day after crews in Gaston County were called to battle a pair of wildfires. One house was destroyed in those blazes, which scorched more than 7 1/2 acres.

Jake Wimberley of the National Weather Service said the relative humidity will be only 15 to 20 percent Thursday across the region. He said westerly winds of 10 to 15 mph are expected, with gusts to 20 mph.

Westerly winds in the Carolinas typically accelerate drying conditions, meteorologists say.

“Fires can quickly get out of hand under these conditions,” Wimberley said.

Chris Stowe of the Gastonia Fire Department said crews were kept busy Wednesday by wildfires. Both blazes were reported about 1 p.m. – one in the 2100 block of Chespark Drive, in north Gastonia; and at Mayberry Lane and Sparrow Springs Road, southwest of Gastonia near Crowders Mountain State Park.

The Chespark Drive blaze burned about 1.5 acres but was brought under control by crews in just 10 minutes. No buildings were damaged.

The Mayberry Lane fire burned 6 acres, and the N.C. Forestry Service was called in to bulldoze a fire lane around the land. Stowe said an abandoned building was destroyed in that blaze.

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