Fires

A hillside showcases the aftermath of a small wildfire in front of the Watauga County Extension Office on April 18.

WATAUGA — At least 10 grass fires were reported and extinguished in Watauga County on April 18.

Watauga County Forest Ranger Andrew Harsey said two fires were on the U.S. and Ashe County line on U.S. 221 and eight were recorded between the U.S. 421/221 intersection to George Wilson Road in Boone.

Deep Gap Fire Department posted on its Facebook page that it was dispatched to a grass fire off Highway 421 near the natural gas station at approximately 3:30 p.m. Shortly after that call, a second fire was called on U.S. 421 at the Pepsi plant. The department then responded to two more fires along Highway 421 near North Pine Run Road and then a fifth fire at U.S. 221 and Cranberry Springs.

Harsey said the cause of the fires was a truck that traveled from West Jefferson through Boone that had some mechanical issues that caused sparks.

“These were not intense fires,” Harsey said. “It was just chaotic because of the number of them, and we couldn’t figure out what was the cause. Until they found the truck we were trying to put the ones that we were at out, and anticipate where the next one was going to be.”

Harsey said a person was driving behind the truck and reported it to law enforcement. The truck was stopped, according to Harsey.

The fires started due to dry grass.

“At this time of the year, the grass is starting to green up but you still have a lot of dead grass and grass lights up pretty easy, especially when it’s dry because it’s so small,” Harsey said.

If the county had not seen even light rain in the past few weeks, Harsey said the 10 fires would have been “a different ballgame.”

“We’re nearing the end of this fire season,” Harsey said. “We’ve probably got, at most, four-to-five weeks of fire season left, but if get little spurts of rain, it’ll keep it to where it we can still have fires, but they won’t be intense.”

Deep Gap Fire Department, Stuart Simmons Fire Department, Boone Fire Department, Fleetwood Fire Department, Linkwood Fire Department, North Carolina Forest Service, Boone Police Department and the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the various fires.

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