Building a fire line

N.C. Forest Service bulldozer operator Coy Wilmoth clears a containment line around a wildfire off Mount Zion Road.

Fire destroyed two sheds and burned a little over seven acres of cutover timberland in the Mount Zion community of southwestern Wilkes County on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

The blaze was on the north side of Mount Zion Road, about two tenths of a mile from Mount Zion Baptist Church, said Michael Crouse, one of two assistant county rangers with the N.C. Forest Service in Wilkes.

Crouse said it started in a shed where a woman had a heat lamp for a goat and two kids. He said the heat lamp apparently ignited hay in the shed, resulting in the loss of the shed, the mother goat, one kid and another nearby shed.

He said flames came within a few feet of two residences and three other buildings but Champion Fire and Rescue members prevented them from catching fire. Crouse said the fire burned up a nearby slope and into an area where timber was harvested about 10 years ago and another area where it was cut about five years ago.

Crouse said N.C. Forest Service bulldozer operator Coy Wilmoth constructed a containment line around most of the blaze and Mount Zion Road was used for the remainder. An N.C. Forest Service scout plane was also utilized.

The Millers Creek and Ferguson fire departments in Wilkes, the Deep Gap Fire Department in Watauga County and the N.C. Forest Service Fire Attack Support Team also responded to the blaze.

Crouse said firefighters were dispatched at about 11:30 a.m. and were on the scene until about 5:30 p.m.

Other fires

Jeremiah Greene, also an assistant county ranger with the forest service in Wilkes, said a wildfire burned about half an acre of forestland on the uphill side of U.S. 21 on the Blue Ridge Mountain escarpment on the same day as the Mount Zion fire. Greene said the fire apparently was ignited by a passing vehicle’s catalytic converter.

The fire was about a mile and a half up the U.S. 21 mountain and before the U.S. 21 overlook. The Austin and Traphill fire departments in Wilkes and Cherry Lane Fire Department in Alleghany County responded. Greene said firefighters were on the scene until about 11:10 a.m.

Crouse said a wildfire also started on Tuesday, Nov. 9 on Sauratown Mountain in Stokes County. It had burned about 20 acres by Wednesday, Nov. 10.

He said dry conditions and newly-fallen leaves have increased wildfire risks.

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