The smoke you smell might have drifted a long way

By on July 6, 2011

Smoke from a containment burnout at the fire in Pender County. (Vean Noble photo)

While the 45,000-acre Pains Bay fire 9 miles south of Manns Harbor is fully contained two months after it started, smoke and haze on the Outer Banks could persist from fires more than 100 miles away.

A fire started by lightning June 19 in Pender County north of Wilmington has grown to 31,000 acres and is 71 percent contained, according to the Incident Management System, a national web-based network that monitors wildfires.

Not much water is available in the area to help firefighters soak the perimeters of the Juniper Road fire in Pender County.

“The fire is burning in the peat soil and will likely continue to produce smoke indefinitely or until the fire receives a good soaking rain,” the system reported Wednesday.

A smaller fire in in Bladen County east of Fayetteville has burned 5,400 acres and is 50 percent contained.

South and southwest winds could push smoke from both fires toward the Outer Banks and as far north as Norfolk, the North Carolina Forest Service says. But the state Division of Air Quality says air quality at worst might be intermittently unhealthy for some people.

Last week and into the holiday weekend, the smell of smoke and haze settled over the Outer Banks.

The Pains Bay fire in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and the Dare County range was started by lightning May 4 and continues to produce light smoke. It will take 6 inches or more of steady rain to put out smoldering ground fires.





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