State News

Wildfire forces evacuations near Camp Lejeune

Posted March 24, 2011 5:52 p.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2011 10:56 p.m. EDT

Marine Corps symbol at Camp Lejeune

— Officials declared a state of emergency and ordered evacuations Thursday night as crews battled a massive wildfire at Camp Lejeune.

Onslow County commissioners decided on the state of emergency not only because of the fire, but the dense smoke it is creating, said spokeswoman Lisa Whitman-Grice. She said they had not received any reports of burned structures. Authorities are going door-to-door to evacuate people in the Stump Sound township southwest of Camp Lejeune.

About 20 homes and a mobile home park were evacuated earlier in the day as the blaze that began Saturday covered about 2,000 acres.

Leonard Szymanik, 68, said authorities asked him and his wife to evacuate around 3 p.m. He said burned-out embers from the blaze were falling from the sky at the time and smoke was making it difficult to see.

"It was starting to get really, really thick," Szymanik said.

Szymanik said he's concerned about his home and hopes firefighters can handle the blaze. He and his wife are spending the night at a Red Cross shelter along with about a half-dozen other people.

Officials do not know how many homes or people will be impacted by the evacuations.

Ways to help protect yourself from wildfire smoke

  • Reduce time outdoors. This can provide protection, especially in a tightly closed house where the air-conditioner can re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air.
  • Reduce time engaged in outdoor physical activity. This can be effective in lowering the dose of inhaled air pollutants.
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution that can emit the same pollutants found in wildfire smoke. Indoor sources such as burning cigarettes, gas, propane and wood-burning stoves and furnaces, and activities such as cooking, burning candles and incense and vacuuming can greatly increase the particle levels in a home and should be avoided when wildfire smoke is present.

Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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