A woods fire within the city limits of Old Fort was started by a firework, Old Fort police said Wednesday.
The incident occurred around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Multiple fire departments responded to the scene, and the fire was under control within a couple of hours.
According to Officer Will Guzman of the Old Fort Police Department, Stephen Ruffle, of Old Fort, set off a firework that ignited the fire. He was issued a town ordinance citation. More charges could be pending.
Old Fort Police Chief Melvin Lytle said this isn’t their first run-in with the suspect.
“He is always shooting off fireworks, and unfortunately yesterday he shot off fireworks and it got over in the kudzu on the corner of Mitchell and Salisbury streets,” said Lytle.
On Wednesday, the N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) was on the scene surveying the damage. No homes were threatened and no injuries were reported. The fire burned about an acre and a half. N.C. Forest Service, P.G. Fire Department, Old Fort Fire Department and Crooked Creek Fire Department responded to the scene.
NCFS told The McDowell News the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but warns citizens to be cautious as spring fire season comes around.
“We see a lot of stove ashes, and as we dry out, those stove ashes stay hot for a couple of days,” said Dwayne Vigil, of the NCFS. “We get a lot of debris burns. Citizens should always pick the best day and use the right tools.”
He said folks can get a burning permit for natural, woods vegetation by visiting www.ncforestservice.gov.