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Two Vehicle Fires At Freeman Park

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - It was a busy extended holiday week at Freeman Park just north of Carolina Beach. The park is a popular destination for tourists and locals during the summer. It's one of only a few areas along the east coast that permits four-wheel drive vehicles on the oceanfront by purchasing a daily or annual pass. Unfortunately, some vehicle owners quickly discover driving on dirt trails is different than driving on soft sand. Last week there were two vehicle fires at Freeman Park due to tranmission fluid flare ups.
It's a more common occurence than most people think.  Drivers push their vehicles to a point where transmission fluid spills out on the engine and catches fire. Typically burning the entire vehicle.
Carolina Beach Police Office Larry Ward has spent quite a bit of time patrolling Freeman Park over the years.
Ward said one of the most common issues for drivers is lack of experience driving in sand. Many people who frequent the park know how to setup their vehicle and traverse the tire ruts and crowds in the park.
Still, many are unaware that one factor can make their driving experience much more enjoyable while avoid a fire.
Tire pressure.
Ward said drivers should let out a little less than half of their tire pressure. He said, "I use the half inch test. If I can press in on the sidewall of the tire a half-inch" then his tires are ready to handle the soft sand. Additionally, all terrain radial tires work best on the sand. Large off road tires with deep treads don't provide as much traction and tend to dig into the sand especially during dry weather conditions.
Vehicle clearance is another issue. The police department actually had to raise their vehicles in order to get better clearance.
Earlier this year someone managed to get their Dodge Charger a great distance into the park. People often attempt to drive two-wheel vehicles into the park and learn real fast that it was a mistake.
And "all wheel drive" vehicles are not four-wheel-drive vehicles. A common issue with people trying to enter the park.
The cost of the season permit is $60.00 from January 1 to March 31.  After March 31, the cost of the annual permit is $100.  
Permit applications are not required for daily passes. Daily passes may be purchased for $20.00 at the entrance of Freeman Park. 
Weekend passes are available at $40 for 2 days and $50 for 3 days. Credit cards are accepted.
Season passes can be purchased at Town Hall and other locations seven days a week. Visit for more information.