IMT informs public about growing fire

Published 3:15 am Sunday, June 8, 2008

By Staff
Relief set up for affected residents
Staff Writer
With the Evans Road Fire still growing Friday, the safety of residents in Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell and Martin counties has become a major concern.
An informative community meeting was held by the Evans Road Fire Incident Management Team Friday night at the Ponzer Volunteer Fire Department. After a briefing on the state of the fire by Incident Commander Reed Hildreath, members of the IMT fielded questions from residents who live in the vicinity of the 30,000-plus acre blaze.
The most pressing issue for residents was the question of how the fire would be put out.
Peat soil fires, such as the Evans Road Fire, have to be flooded, IMT Information Officer Bill Swartley said.
Members oaf the Ponzer Fire Department and local residents have already started to flood the area.
Teresa Collier, of Waterway Drive, was one of a number of residents evacuated from the waterfront community. With only one road to the community, locals were evacuated over concerns that if the fire reached the area, people could have been trapped.
Collier was shaken by the evacuation, but optimistic about the situation.
The IMT is relying on a cohesive effort to help with evacuations and containment of the fire. About 200 people are working with the team to fight the fire.
To help get information regarding the fire to the public, Swartley is bringing along more information officers.
Dennis Wahlers, an Alexander County Ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service and member of the IMT has been helping with the effort.
The IMT plans to have more informative community meetings, which local residents said are appreciated.
Ponzer resident Jack Clark, 57, came to the meeting to see how his wife could help with relief efforts.
His wife has already helped a resident living near the fire.
The Beaufort County Department of Social Services has set up a relief shelter at the Belhaven Fire Department to help residents such as this.
Helping Leverett are volunteers with the Greater Pamlico Chapter of the American Red Cross and Chowan County Animal Control, which brought a Companion Animal Mobile Equipment Trailer for residents evacuated with their pets.
No evacuees has stayed in the shelter overnight as of Friday, but Andrew expected people to come if the fire worsens.
Mary Bass, supervisor for the Companion Animal Mobile Equipment Trailer, has dealt with a few local pet-owners.
The trailer comes equipped with collapsible crates and “whatever else the animal needs,” according to Bass.
Bass, who is also trained to decontaminate animals, will be staying at the shelter for the time being.
“We’ve been told to stay until at least (Saturday),” Bass said. “We’re waiting to see how the fire changes.”
With the IMT at full force and relief efforts underway, Keith Suttles, member of the IMT and forest ranger with the N.C. Forest Service, hopes the fire will remain contained.
But Hildreath was quick to caution any optimism.