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Georgia wildfire causing smoky haze in the Triangle

Posted April 16

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— Officials believe the smoke that made its way into the Triangle Sunday afternoon is coming from a wildfire in southeast Georgia.

Originally, emergency dispatchers believed the smoky haze was blowing over into central portions of the state from the "Dobson Knob Fire" in McDowell County near Pisgah National Forest.

Despite those predictions, at 2:30 p.m., the National Weather Service confirmed that the smoke is instead coming from a fire in southeast Georgia near the southern end of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The fire, known as the "West Mims Fire," started on April 6 during a lightning storm and is only 3 percent contained.

West Mims Fire

When asked why officials originally thought the haze to be from North Carolina, an official with the National Weather Service responded, "I doubt that the Dobson Knob fire, which is virtually contained as per latest update, could produce that much smoke at 1,800 acres. The Okefenokee fire is at 18,000 acres and will likely burn for sometime."

High pressure over the southeast portion of the country kept the smoke well contained to the south and west of central North Carolina for the past several days, officials said. Over the past 24 hours, the smoke has been directed east.

WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said that the southwest wind that has carried the smoke to the Triangle is expected to remain for another day before shifting.

"Potentially, we could be dealing with the smell of smoke and maybe hazy conditions for another 12 to 24 hours," Wilmoth said.

There is no threat to the area, and there have not been any reports of substantial local fires that would cause this kind of smoke, officials said.

Many who were spending their Easter Sunday outdoors were pushing through the smoky conditions but others visiting Pullen Park were struggling with the conditions.

"My mom had to leave early because of her asthma," said Steve Penny.

"In spite of everything, we still have to make the most of everything and be positive, so we still had to enjoy our Easter Sunday so that's why we're out here at Pullen Park and we have to carry on with our lives," said Mijiyah Nustar, who was visiting Pullen Park.

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