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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2011

CONTACT: Brian Long, director
NCDA&CS Public Affairs
(919) 707-3007

Troxler visits wildfires, praises Forest Service crews

RALEIGH — Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler visited the sites of two major wildfires in eastern North Carolina Tuesday to learn firsthand how N.C. Forest Service crews are fighting the blazes.

The Forest Service became part of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on July 1.

Troxler visited the Juniper Road Fire in Pender County and the Simmons Road Fire along the border of Bladen and Cumberland counties. He attended a strategy session, met with incident commanders and viewed damage caused by the fires. In Pender County he also did a flyover of the fire. More than 230 firefighters combined are battling the two fires, which began last month.

“These crews have been working long hours in the heat to protect homes and land, and I wanted to thank them personally for their dedication,” Troxler said. “I saw homes that wouldn’t be standing if not for the work of these firefighters.”

The Juniper Road Fire has burned more than 31,000 acres since lightning started it June 19. As of Tuesday, the fire was 68 percent contained, and crews were continuing to secure and extinguish hotspots along the perimeter. “The size of the Juniper Road Fire is unbelievable,” Troxler said.

The Simmons Road Fire has burned 5,400 acres since it began June 20, also the result of a lightning strike. The fire has destroyed three homes and 16 outbuildings. It was 50 percent contained on Tuesday, and crews were constructing pre-suppression lines and attacking the blaze directly where fire intensity allowed.

Both fires are burning in organic soil, which can reach depths of 8 feet or more. Ground fire is difficult to fight because it creeps underground, drying out vegetation until it reaches a point of combustion. Fire can smolder in the ground for months, until there is a soaking rain.

-bal-1

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3005; FAX: (919) 733-5047

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Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture

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