Marsh Grass Fire Lights Up Highway 12; Cause Unknown

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Cedar Island Volunteer Fire Dept. and the NC Forest Service responded to a fire that was burning dead marsh grass washed up by Hurricane Dorian on Highway 12 and in the surrounding marsh near Cedar Island Saturday.

Cedar Island crews were able to stop the fire from spreading along the road, but the dead marsh grass was so thick and the area so large that water couldn’t extinguish the blaze.

County Forest Ranger Brent Toler said they decided to go with a controlled burn instead.

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“I made contact with US Fish and Wildlife, since it is their property past the canal, and let them know that we were going to go ahead and burn the rest of it, and they agreed,” Toler said.

“The wind was blowing back over the marsh so it was good conditions to do the controlled burn.”

The origins of the fire are unknown. Toler said it could have been ignited by a lit cigarette butt or sparks from a chain dragging from a trailer, but arson is also a possibility.

“I think this is about the third or fourth time they have had a fire down there recently,” Toler said.

“While I hope no one is intentionally setting it on fire, it’s possible and [I] hope they understand they are putting the safety of responders and the public at risk.”

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Toler said the Forest Service has contacted NC Dept. of Transportation about mitigating the buildup of flammable debris along roads after storms.