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Triangle catches whiff of spreading coastal wildfire

Posted June 17, 2012
Updated June 19, 2012

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— Triangle residents might be able to catch a whiff of a uncontained wildfire in the Croatan National Forest.

The blaze began Thursday from a controlled burn by the U.S. Forest Service Thursday near the center of the national forest, grew to 2,800 acres by Sunday afternoon and ballooned to 8,000 acres by mid-morning Monday.

Forestry officials said the blaze has not injured anyone or threatened any property in the national forest south of New Bern and stretching nearly to the Bogue Banks.

WRAL viewer Ronald Carr said saw the fire across the Bogue Sound from Emerald Isle this weekend.

"The town of Cedar Point was saturated with smoke and ash," Carr wrote in an email. "The smoke also made for an unusual and beautiful sunset."

Other WRAL viewers said they could sometimes detect what smelled like a fire burning as far west as Raleigh.

"Some of the smoke was likely transported this way with east winds Sunday and is still in the area today," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. "There may be some low concentrations through the day over about the eastern half of the viewing area." Croatan National Forest fire Viewer video: Croatan Forest Fires

The N.C. Division of Air Quality said particle pollution in the Triangle had increased due to the fire but wasn't expected to rise to unhealthy levels.

An air-quality warning, though, was issued for Carteret, Craven, Jones, Onslow and Pamlico counties. People who are sensitive to air pollution – the elderly, children, people who work or exercise outdoors, and those with heart and respiratory conditions – should avoid outdoor activities. Normally healthy people should limit outdoor activities. Uncontrolled wildfire burns in NC coastal forest Uncontrolled wildfire burns in NC coastal forest

The smoke was also expected to reduce visibility along highways 70, 17 and 58 in Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow counties.

U.S. Forest Service officials told WNCT News that they were fighting the fire indirectly because mechanized equipment isn't allowed in the wilderness area.

"We don't have any timber in there. We don't have any private land in there. There's no homes in there," said district ranger Pancho Smith. "There's nothing in there that is of an emergency nature."

The fire has spread from the Sheep Ridge Wilderness into the rest of the forest, he said. Firefighters have ignited brush along Catfish Lake Road in to try to create a line of fire that they can control.

"We can hold the fire and the lines we put in place," Smith said. "We burn out from there, so that when the main fire gets there, it won't have any place to go."


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  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 18, 2012

    Geez, I wish we had Like buttons here. ;o)

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 18, 2012

    kellypsnll - "Forests fires are part of nature. By creating a fire, it allows all the debris from last autumns to be removed, adding nutrients to the soil and allowing the healthy trees to continue to grow. If it hasn't happened in a while, we offer a controlled burn to help out. The forest is a pretty large area and we are no longer under drought conditions. People don't need to worry unless it approaches their homes. We will probably have a good rain storm before that."

    Blah Blah Blah

    Tell that to the birds and squirrels and deer and foxes, etc.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 18, 2012

    storcheim - "If it helps anyone who rightfully feels sad for the animals, I'm sure they recognized the fire as danger and got away."

    Some move slower than this fire is moving. Also, if you've ever seen animals react to a fire, they're often frightened and confused like we are and run in circles looking for an easy out, wasting time until sometimes it's too late.

    Whomever approved this fire needs to pay the tab for getting it put out.

  • rlwieland Jun 18, 2012

    I was down at the beach this past week and the wind was blowing before they set this fire. Why would they set a control fire with the wind blowing like that. Sounds fishy to me, i think they do this stuff on purpose.

  • Mustang Jun 18, 2012

    Looks like our government will do anything to further their global warming agenda!

  • ykm Jun 18, 2012

    Should help with the skeeter population.

  • storchheim Jun 18, 2012

    If it helps anyone who rightfully feels sad for the animals, I'm sure they recognized the fire as danger and got away. It's a little late in the season for most babies too, so I doubt many perished.

  • kotcowgirl Jun 18, 2012

    no rain for a week so they fire want be out. what about all the forest animals in there what happen to them. Oh i know they burned up along with the trees. why burn it if it is 8000acres it will be 16000 acres with no rain in sight. Your jobs should be on the line for creating this monster of a burn. This does not sound controlled me it sounds like a burn that has gotten out of hand. Something else us tax payers have to pay for. The feds mistake or Forest Service Mistake who do we blame. Since neither one of you know the goverment should blame u both.

  • jholloman1 Jun 18, 2012

    Question? With winds 20 to 25 what in the name of Christ would anybody do control burns?Just asking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • storchheim Jun 18, 2012

    Couldn't agree more with those remarking on the inability of the burners. Well, good thing we taught them that they're special, close is good enough, and I do hope their self-esteem doesn't suffer.