Over the past several years, N.C. has had low to moderate wildfire activity. During this time, it is best to be proactive in fire prevention and pre-fire planning.
Most people think wildfires only happen in the western part of the U.S. but wildfires actually happen on the East Coast as well. Even in Sampson County, wildfires can range from one-tenth of an acre to several hundred acres.
Last year, N.C. Forest Service in Sampson County responded with local fire departments to 43 wildfires and assisted in saving 45 structures. One way N.C. Forest Service can help homeowners in pre-fire planning is to send out a forest ranger, per request, to complete a wildfire hazard and risk assessment score sheet. The assessment is a free service where the forest ranger comes to your property and evaluates your home. The ranger will look at categories such as, ingress and egress, street signs, vegetation, topography, building construction, utilities and landscaping. After the evaluation, the forest ranger will inform the property owner of their hazard level. Also the ranger will make recommendations of how to be more fire-wise in preparation for potential wildfires.
As stated in Firewise Communities — Communities Compatible With Nature pamphlet — “To understand a home’s wildfire risk and what you can do to protect it, first consider how wildfires spread. Wildfires do not always burn everything in their path; homes are far more likely to be threatened by firebrands (burning embers) which can travel up to a mile.” America’s population is growing with N.C. being near the top of the list for states with increased development. People have started developing in more natural environments, creating a landscape known as wildland/urban interface.
The N.C. Forest Service can help you to be fire ready. To have the wildfire hazard and risk assessment completed, contact your local N.C. Forest Service office. The N.C. Forest Service office in Sampson County can be reached at: 910-592-4515.
(Editor’s note: Brandon Creech is a Forest Fire Equipment Operator.)