Local News

Wildfire smoke causes traffic problems

Posted June 25, 2008 2:50 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2008 8:17 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Department of Transportation declared a state of emergency for drivers in northern and eastern parts of the state Wednesday as smoke from wildfires in the area clouded skies and limited visibility.

About 30,000 acres are burning in and around the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The fire, which is about 75 percent contained, is mostly smoldering through interior vegetation and spewing smoke into nearby towns.

That smoke was causing problems along highways in the area, particularly U.S. Highway 64, U.S. 264, N.C. Highway 45, N.C. 94 and N.C. 99.

The DOT had placed message boards along those routes, but advised travelers to be prepared for detours and delays.

Map: Progress of the fire

In the map below, the area of the fire is designated in red. Pushpins signal air-quality forecasts.

Code Red or Purple, indicating the highest concentration of particle pollutants, is forecast Thursday for Hyde, Tyrrell, eastern Washington, Dare, extreme eastern Gates, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties and areas along the Outer Banks from Ocracoke Inlet up to Virginia.

Code Orange air quality is forecast in eastern Gates County, Perquimans County, central Washington County, and the western tip of Hyde County.

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)

The state Division of Public Health lists the symptoms of smoke exposure as:

  • coughing
  • scratchy throat
  • shortness of breath
  • irritated sinuses
  • chest pain
  • headaches
  • stinging eyes
  • runny nose

You can help

North Carolina Baptist Men Disaster Relief is providing showers, laundry services and food to firefighters in Hyde County. To donate to the relief effort, send a check to: NCBM Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.