Cumberland County forest fire is going cost taxpayers, fire chief says

(Sheena Elzie/CBS North Carolina)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Firefighters in Cumberland County have been trying to keep a forest fire from getting worse, something they say is going to cost taxpayers.

Pearson’s Mill Deputy Fire Chief Tracy Smith says it’s going to cost because of the sheer amount of water and teams of fire crews working overtime to get a forest fire under control.

“At this point, we’re looking at 14 to 15,000 gallons of water,” said Smith. “We hate to tie resources up for it, but it’s just something you have to do.”

They’re battling hot spots since Monday because of what was burning.

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“It’s like putting water on a duck’s back, it just runs off, it has to burn, you have to get it watered down to the seed of the fire and that’s one the problems we had,” said Smith.

The North Carolina Division of Air Quality is checking for toxins in the air because of what was burning, too. It was hundreds of tires.

Something the fire chief says all started because the property owner was burning trash.

But just as crews were wrapping up in the Pearson’s Mill part of Cumberland County, a call for another 5-acre forest fire in the East Over area of Cumberland County that could’ve started for the same reason.

“People being careless or not being careful with the fire, we have situations like this happen,” said County Forestry Ranger Craig Gottfried.

And according to state law, it’s illegal to burn any man made trash.

Burning leaves and brush is OK but county forestry rangers say there’s a safe way to do it.

“You need to always have a watchman someone out there to protect it be around it, maybe have a water source nearby like a hose or something, but a lot of times, the problem happens when it’s unattended, people leave or go in the house,” said Gottfried.

So far, the property owner has been ticketed and fined for the fire in the Pearson’s Mill area, but it’s still in clear how much it could cost him and taxpayers for all of this.

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