State News

Fewer firefighters work wildfire in eastern N.C.

Posted June 17, 2008

— Firefighters continued to work Tuesday to extinguish a wildfire that's burned more than 41,000 acres in eastern North Carolina, but there are signs that the effort is less intense than it once was.

The number of firefighters working the blaze in and around the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge stood at 465 Tuesday, down from a high of 570 last week.

Command Center spokesman Dean McAlister said Tuesday it would take weeks – and, likely, tropical moisture – to extinguish the blaze completely, but containment efforts were becoming "a holding pattern."

The fire was about 70 percent contained Tuesday, up from 60 percent a day earlier, officials said.

Smoke from the fire continues to cause unhealthy air conditions with the state forecasting another day of Code Purple conditions Tuesday in eight eastern counties. Nine other counties are under the lower Code Orange conditions.

Map: Progress of the fire

In the map below, the area of the fire is designated in red. Pushpins signal poor air quality reports, with the darker pins indicating reports of limited visibility due to the smoke in the air.


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  • fourfivesix Jun 18, 2008

    Mulkey:"Well no one has answered the manpower question because you are just like me, you don't know. The media from wherever has not asked and/or received an answer from those in charge."

    what? you should reread some of these posts. your original question was worded poorly also, which makes it even tougher to really understand what you're getting at.

    again, you really shouldn't make judgements on how we are handling the fire unless you are involved or at least had an inkling of knowledge on the subject.

  • shine Jun 17, 2008

    Hey Mulkey, Don't get your feathers ruffled. I just didn't know if you understood a firefighters position. I know about the guy that got killed over the weekend, that is another hazard in rescue and fire work. Ask Noohanger - he certainly has more experience than I do.

    I was just trying to explain to you about the nature of the fire in Fairfield - just because I have done some it.

    In no way - was it to intimidate you - if it did then I apologize.

    If you want to be friends - hey let's be friends - I am sure that things that you do or have done could help me.

    If you want a cat fight - well I am not into that there are plenty more on here that will get in the ring with you.

    I am here to share information and if you are going to get the hair standing up on the back of your neck - well .......

    Take it easy - and have a great day.

  • eatme Jun 17, 2008

    I do happen to know cos if I hadn't already been in TX, I would have been sent there already.

  • olsaltydog Jun 17, 2008

    Well no one has answered the manpower question because you are just like me, you don't know. The media from wherever has not asked and/or received an answer from those in charge.

    mpjarman, you confirmed that one of the strategies was to wait for the fire to come to a natural line.

    shine, I don't know what planet you are on but I never suggested that Firefighter put there life on the line in this fire. Don't firefighter put there life on the line every time they go out on a call? One just lost his life this past weekend directing traffic at a controlled burn -- he was hit by tractor trailer.

  • eatme Jun 17, 2008

    Mulkey...It is obvious you want to blame somebody so blame it on so blame it on the firefighters huh? It was obviously our fault lightning started the fire, our fault some of us were taking vacation to reduce comp time(no paid OT), we should have known there was gonna be a fire BEFORE it started and not gone to TX to help them(they are in worse shape than we are!) and only a few of us went at that! It's also our fault that extra out of state resources are hard to come by because alot were/are already committed in TX. I (and alot of other guys) were recalled early to come back and TX ain't right down the road. The fire was originally contained at 1700 acres or so but it jumped the lines before other resources could get there. Alot of help was called from the start but you can't expect dozers,trucks,and people to run on no fuel,food and rest! Logistics man!! That takes time too! Oh ya there's nothing ANYONE can do when the fire outruns the equipment, starts fires a mile ahead of itself!

  • shine Jun 17, 2008

    Fire itself will create it's own wind velocity. Ask
    Noowirehanger...... far more experienced than myself. The atmospheric wind will carry the smoke but if it is a real fire burning it will create a wind that you will not see on the weather channel

  • shine Jun 17, 2008

    Mulkey...... sometimes it is the magnitude of the fire - instead of the fire. A firefighter can lose their life on the sence of being insenseible. The smarter ones will cool their jets and take one step back and determine how they work it out. Other wise you end up with loss of life and problems.

    There were 6 fireman that went into a house and were trying to remove a couch with no breathing equp. ( this has been a while back but is good training today) . They all died....... why - the cushions on the couch that catch fire are more volatile than the smoke. You have to know what you are getting into when you work a fire. First you can be hurt, Second you can be dead.
    You do it for the "better cause" but there are no guaranteed events. They are people that risk their lives for others.

    If you want to see a fire scene - let someone know there is a person or a child still in the house...... Don't get in the way because you will get trampled by firefighters... just a thought.

  • mpheels Jun 17, 2008

    mulkey, I grew up in the area, about 20 miles NE of the fire. The local agencies are trained and equipped to handle wildfires, this one just has a rare combination of features that only happens once every 20-30 years. The last time a fire of this size/length happened was in the mid '80s. There was a quick response it just wasn't heavily reported outside the region. As others have said there really isn't much that can be done. Not only is the fire burning in the soil, the terrain is incredibly difficult. Firefighters and equipment can't easily access the fire so there's not much to do except dig trenches, flood ditches, and wait for the fire to burn to the breaks. The big jump in containment is in part because shifting winds had the fire burning onto itself for awhile and gave fire fighters a chance to secure the breaks, plus the fire finally burned itself to a few permanent breaks along roads - instant containment!

  • fourfivesix Jun 17, 2008

    Sorry but no, Mulkey. As soon as the fire started there were NCDFR employees on top of it. The fire is within a nature reserve in peat soil. I refer to Nowirehanger's post and "They are well trained to deal with these fires but only so much can be done with an area that large!!"

    The response may have seemed slow because of the lack of news coverage by the Raleigh-area stations, but the local, down east stations have covered it from the start (and more in depth).

    I'd hesitate to make such broad assumptions with such little knowledge.

  • olsaltydog Jun 17, 2008

    The point I was trying to make is that there was a slow response to fighting this fire. Yes, I am aware of the soil make up down east and how hard it is to fight a peat fire. Which is even more of a reason to jump on it fast with enough manpower to contain it. It would appear that the strategy was to wait until it came to them?

    The news report have been poor at best. I do know when the smoke started heading west it was reported that there 330 fire fighters and that balloon to 570 after the smoke arrived and is now down to 465 and the smoke has left Raleigh.