Fire spread from training range at NC Marine base

A North Carolina wildfire that's burned 4,000 acres in a sprawling military base and the surrounding county started last weekend when Marines were testing weapons on a firing range, a state forestry official said Friday.

A North Carolina wildfire that's burned 4,000 acres in a sprawling military base and the surrounding county started last weekend when Marines were testing weapons on a firing range, a state forestry official said Friday.

High winds and low humidity have helped the fire spread since it started on Camp Lejeune on March 19, said Bill Swartley, of the N.C. Division of Forest Services. He didn't have specifics about what kind of weapon sparked the blaze.

So far, no structure damage or injuries have been reported. More than 2,000 acres have burned on the 126,000-acre Marine base.

Onslow County lifted its state of emergency Friday afternoon after conditions started to improve for those fighting the blaze, according to Norman Bryson, the county's deputy emergency management director.

"It's looking pretty good right now," he said. "The weather's more favorable than it was."

Crews were still fighting the blaze from the air, dropping water on the flames, Bryson said, and using plows to create trenches around the edges of the fire in a bid to prevent it from spreading.

Several schools in Onslow County were closed Friday. Some residents who had been evacuated near the town of Sneads Ferry were allowed to return home, and a state highway was reopened after a closure of several hours.

Meanwhile, three Georgia wildfires had burned more than 7,000 acres each, forcing temporary evacuations Thursday night of more than 100 houses, a nursing home and a prison. In South Carolina, a wildfire that scorched 2,600 acres along the coast was 95 percent contained.

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