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Carolina Lakes

Carolina LakesCarolina Lakes is a 1,565-acre gated community located in Harnett County near Spout Springs, North Carolina. The community is heavily wooded and, in undeveloped areas, is overgrown with heavy vegetation. Seven lakes of varying size dot the property that contains 1,560 lots. The area currently has 730 homes with approximately 70 under construction.

In August of 2002, a 20-acre fire burned within one section of the community and the next month the homeowners association contacted the Spout Springs fire department to discuss ways to protect the community. In November, letters were mailed to all property owners informing them of their common wildfire risk and proposing that a controlled burn be performed. Signed consent forms were returned to the property owners' office. In January of 2003, an informational community meeting was held with the North Carolina State Forestry Service (NCSFS) and the fire department on the topic of controlled burning.

Carolina LakesWe were advised of the Firewise Communities/USA program during a Community Watch program held in the spring of 2003. This led us to the NC Forest Service and their community assessment and excellent follow-up report. The report made some strong suggestions regarding mitigation of the overgrown areas, addition of a secondary emergency exit, installation of dry hydrants and much more.

In October of 2003, an emergency management exercise was conducted adjacent to Carolina Lakes. The 'mock incident' was a wildland fire that grew to 300 acres and necessitated the evacuation of ten families from within the community.

Carolina LakesIn February of 2004, two homeowners attended a Firewise Workshop in Winston-Salem. In March, the Carolina Lakes Board of Directors appointed a Firewise Committee and in April, the NCSFS conducted a community assessment of the community. In May, the Firewise Committee was elevated to Standing Committee status by the association board and its mitigation plan was approved---as was the assessment of $2/lot annually to be used for Firewise Committee projects. In June, a community meeting was held to explain the Firewise Communities/USA program. In October, Carolina Lakes Community Day included Firewise Committee activities and educational material. In June, a grant application was prepared; approval for one of the projects was received in November.

In January of 2005, the first controlled burn was completed in the community by the NCSFS and the local fire department. In February, bush-hog work funded by the grant was completed. Also in February, road signs for evacuation routes were received.

For more information about Carolina Lakes, visit its website.