November 8, 2013
Ocracoke gets its long-awaited fire break
….WITH SLIDE SHOW
By CONNIE LEINBACH
A long-sought fire break around Ocracoke Village has been in progress this week and should be completed soon.
firefighters from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked on the
Marshmaster Tuesday afternoon along Ramp 72 after having completed
about a mile stretch on the north side of Highway 12.
Midgette and Cory Waters are cutting a 40- to 50-foot swath of about a
mile and a quarter through the thick brush from the ramp sign to one of
the roads off the ramp.
“We’re making it as wide as we can between the cedar trees,” Midgette said. “We can do bushes, but not cedar trees.”
a fire break cut was a goal of retired National Park Service district
ranger Kenny Ballance and the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department for
several years, and has been bird-dogged by Dick Jacoby, president of
the fire company, and his wife, Janey.
is meant to create a buffer should a fire start in the wilderness areas
north of the village and would halt a fire’s march, protecting the
village if cedar trees caught fire.
“When cedar trees catch on fire they explode,” Janey said. “Oak trees don’t burn as quickly.”
Dick concurred noting, “Even when cedars are green, they’re like a can of turpentine. When they go brown it’s even worse.”
Marshmaster is aluminum, Waters said, making it light enough to
traverse a marsh, and the treads are around pontoons enabling it to
float in open water.
“We use it during fires and can run it into the marsh,” Midgette said. “It can maneuver pretty good.”
She explained that when the machine runs in the marsh it pushes down the grasses to the water, which aids in fighting fires.
“We actually use this for fire fighting, prescribed burns, and projects like this,” Waters said.
and Midgette have worked together for 20 years in the fire fighting
division, cutting breaks and fighting blazes. Waters is a firefighter,
while Midgette is an equipment operator.
“I run some of the equipment, but not as much as Amy,” he said. “She’s usually the talk of the town.”
“I like the big toys,” she said with a laugh.
Jacoby was happy that the fire break is finally being done and noted
that a few people attended a public meeting last week on
Ocracoke with Deputy Chief Ranger Jon Anglin of the Cape Hatteras
“If the weather is good, they will come back next October or November,” she said. “We’re just so thankful they’re doing it.”
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