Smoke from two new fires could add to misery

By on June 23, 2011

Click for a larger image. (NCDFR)

Just when some relief seemed to be on the way, smoke from two new wildfires in southeastern North Carolina will be combining with the plume from the Pains Bay fire in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

The northern Outer Banks can again expect smoky haze Saturday, the North Carolina Forest Service says.

Ground peat continues to burn in the Alligator River refuge, but the 45,000-acre fire was 95 percent contained.

Farther south, two fires that started at the beginning of this week are spreading rapidly.

Gary Curcio of the North Carolina Forest Service said in his daily smoke analysis that denser smoke will come from a fire in Pender County. The Pains Bay fire in Dare County will have the next level of impact from smoke, while a fire in Bladen and Cumberland Counties will have less of an effect on our region.

In Bladen County, crews started fighting a fire that was 150 acres after a lightning strike. It quickly raged out of control and spread to 1,245 acres, according to the Incident Information System, which is run by several federal agencies and tracks fires nationwide.

An evacuation was ordered in the Bladen County fire. Three homes and 10 outbuildings were lost, but there have been no injuries.

The information system reported that the fire was 25 percent contained, and the potential for growth was high.

Closer to the southeastern coast, the Juniper Road fire in Pender County now covers 18,280 acres. It was started by lightning June 19 on the Holly Shelter Gameland.

Because of the difficult terrain, the potential for growth is high and getting it contained will take until at least July 1.

Like the Pains Bay fire, the Bladen County blaze is burning peat, which can be several feet deep into the ground.

Only rainfall of 6 to 8 inches will put the ground fires out in the Alligator River Refuge, officials say.

Officials said Tuesday that smoke would likely diminish from that fire as crews neared 100 percent containment.

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