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Fire burns 40+ acres in Vashti

Smoke is seen in the distance from the woods fire near Jim Millsaps Rd. in Vashti, near Cheatham Ford Rd. on Mar. 16.

Updated Mar. 17, 11:45 a.m.

Woods fire burns acreage in Vashti area

Firefighters responded to a woods fire, approximately eight to 10 acres in size when it was reported, near Jim Millsaps Lane in Vashti on Monday, March 16, about 3 p.m. 

Flames were observed licking across pasture land near the Cheatham Ford Rd. side of the fire as well. Firefighters from Vashti, Hiddenite, and other departments responded, along with NC Forest Service personnel, including a bulldozer crew. Shortly after 6 p.m. Monday, emergency radio traffic reported that the woods fire was contained and firefighters were monitoring hotspots.

Dennis Wahlers, N.C. Forest Service Forest Ranger for Alexander County, stated the “North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) and the Vashti FD (VFD) were dispatched to a reported wildland fire in the vicinity of Jim Millsaps road. VFD was first on the scene and reported the fire to be 5 or more acres in size. The NCFS immediately ordered a dozer out of Lenoir to respond.

“The cause of this fire was a downed power line. The location of the fire, combined with the dense understory and the multitude of downed, dead trees, hampered the firefighting efforts. Several adjoining agricultural fields also caught fire, resulting in numerous fire fronts. Hiddenite, Sugar Loaf, and Taylorsville fire departments responded as well, along with a NCFS Scout Plane. It is estimated that 40-plus acres burned and it was only through the coordinated efforts of the NCFS and the Volunteer Fire Departments that no homes or structures were lost. These volunteers put in a long and arduous day,” said Wahlers.

The Forest Ranger also noted that “with high temperatures, low relative humidity, and warm gusty winds, Spring Fire Season is here.”

Wahlers also expressed a “big thank you” to the fire departments for their assistance.

Darrell Mitchell and his father are among the landowners whose property was affected by the fire.

“The Mitchell family appreciates the volunteer fire departments and the N.C. Forest Service for their work. Those volunteers could have been at home with their families, but they were out there helping us save our property,” Mitchell said.

He indicated that 12 acres of the Mitchell property burned. At one point, the flames were about 20 yards from a former chicken house, now used as a shed, on the Mitchell property along Cheatham Ford Road. The fire was about 500 yards from a home belonging to the Mitchell family.

Heavy smoke was visible from as far away as the Craftmaster plant area on NC 90 East in Hiddenite.


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