“The mountain is on fire!” the logger in the driveway told me and I knew I would have to take a break from editing my “Lost Sea Expedition” TV series. The fire had started in the 55 acre timber sale the logger was cutting on our property. First I called the Rusty Dellinger of the NC Forest Service. Then I called my consulting forester Andrew Casey.
Three things helped contain the fire on the mountain:
We had a timber harvest plan in place: Andrew Casey had cruised, flagged and was supervising the timber sale where the fire broke out. From frequent monitoring reports, he knew the site well, including where the fire breaks would need to go.
Close tie to Forest Service: We have worked with Rusty Dellinger, NC Forest Service Caldwell County Ranger for years, from controlled burns to management plans. He and Andrew had visited the logging site four days before the fire started. When the fire broke out, Rusty immediately identified a nearby development as being at risk. Fire breaks were quickly bull-dozed in to protect adjoining properties.
Good roads: Over the years, we have maintained our forest service roads in passable, not perfect, condition. When fire fighters needed to get to the forest fire – by foot, ATV, pumper or service truck – they had almost immediate access.
Two helicopters, a spotter plane, between 80 and 100 (my guess) firefighters and personnel from various agencies showed up to fight the blaze. Watching the various agency mesh their operations into a seamless unit was amazing. On the heels of a polarizing national election, it's heartening to see how functional this country is on a community and state/local government (including NC Forest Service) level.”
We got really lucky. In the end, the blaze burned 40 acres of just-timbered land. We won't know until spring how badly the 30 acres of standing timber that burned will be affected but the damage appears minor.
The only down side? After 3 days of fire on the mountain, editing a TV series about a mule wagon voyage across America seems, well, a tad civil! Thanks to everyone that helped.
Bernie Harberts is a private forester landowner in Caldwell County, NC, an adventurer, author, and film maker. His current project is the “Lost Sea Expedition” TV series. Learn more about the series at lostseaexpedition.com. Also take a look at riverearth.com for more about Bernie and some of his other projects.