A wildfire on Masonboro Island drew the attention of several photographers when they realized that an owl's nest located on nearby Dredge Island in the ICW was in serious jeopardy from the uncontrolled fire. But fortunately, good Samaritans stepped in and as of today, the nest is safe.
Late Thursday, the first reports of a uncontrolled fire on Masonboro Island began to surface. Authorities were notified but determined that since the island was uninhabited, the would just contain the fire to the island and let it eventually burn itself out. But Masonboro is a designated coastal reserve and is home to a variety of wildlife. This led many to wonder what would happen to the island's wildlife as the fire spread.
Earlier today, I saw a facebook post by Mike McGirt were he posted photos of an owl's nest that was in real jeopardy from the advancing fire. Mike had discovered the nest weeks earlier and had been enjoying photographing the baby owls as they grew. It left me wondering what would become of these helpless baby owls.
But a little while later, I was made aware of a facebook post by Lee Parsons. Lee had also been photographing the owls for several weeks and was equally alarmed by their obvious fate. Lee had made several attempts to get help from various government agencies but none of them were willing to intervene. Finally, Lee reached out to the Wilmington Fire Department, Seagate Station 10, and they immediately wanted to help.
They provided Lee with a water canon which he was able to use to blast the fire as it began creeping up the owl's tree. Battalion Chief Tim Smith even rode over with Lee to assist in keeping the fire off the owl's tree. Their extended efforts were successful and as of now, the owl's are safe.
Lee states that the fire personnel from Seagate Station 10 are the true heroes in this story and extends a heartfelt thank you to Battalion Chief Tim Smith, Capt. Joel Gordon, MFF Pete Wallace and PF Russall Dagertt. All four stayed in contact with Lee throughout and kept updating him on the progress of the fire. Lee notes that they were equally concerned about the plight of these baby Owls and wanted to help ensure their safety. Lee ended his FB post by saying "You guys are the best."
So for now, the owls are safe and Lee is going to keep visiting the island to ensure that the area around the owl's tree stays damp so there is less of a chance for any flare up. And although Lee deserves our many thanks, he prefers to discount his actions by stating the following: "this Owl family has given me much pleasure being able to shoot pictures of them for the last 4 weeks, this was my way of returning the favor for what they have given me. Hopefully, these baby's will give us more baby's for us to look at and admire."
But whether he wants it or not, Thank You Lee! And thank you to the WFD-Seagate Station 10 and to Mike for helping bringing attention to the plight of these birds.
Photo credit: Top photo (Mike M.); Three middle photos (Lee P.); Bottom photo - Mike M.(left) and Lee P. (right).