State News

Winds whip up erratic wildfire in eastern NC wildlife refuge

Posted May 7, 2011 1:07 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2011 5:21 p.m. EDT

— A wildfire in an eastern North Carolina national wildlife refuge is continuing to spread.

Visitor services manager Bonnie Strawser said Saturday the fire in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge had spread to more than 7,000 acres as of 3 p.m. 

Strong winds helped the fire spread erratically Saturday, Strawser said. 

Firefighters planned to build containment lines on the fire's west side, but had to pull back for safety reasons. The east side is burning toward the sound and will not be attacked directly.

The fire started Thursday, mostly likely from a lightning strike.

A 10-mile section of U.S. Highway 264 between Stumpy Point and Engelhard is closed to traffic because of heavy smoke and active fire on both sides of the road. There is no indication of when the road might be reopened.

No private property or animals in the refuge have been endangered by the blaze.

The North Carolina Division of Forestry, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and numerous local fire departments are battling the blaze.

A national emergency team from Texas has been called to help because of the complexity of the fire.