Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

March 30, 2009

Three Week-end Wildfires on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

With gusts reaching 33 mph and the wind at a steady 18 mph, Sunday could have been a catastrophic day for a wildfire. In fact, a unknown vehicle with a faulty catalytic converter caused three small wildfires on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The fires were reported shortly after noon by a passing motorist and were located between the Visitor Center and Refuge Headquarters area on the east side of NC 12. The Chicamacomico Volunteer Fire Department was the first to respond and had the blazes contained rather quickly. Other responders included the National Park Service, NC Forest Service, and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

FWS Incident Commander Greg Suszek commented, "We're fortunate to have had the 1" of rain recently. And, it's really good that the wind was out of the southwest and the fires started on the east side of the highway. It's not often we have a wildfire that runs to the Atlantic ocean!"

The largest of the three fires, the Cadillac Fire, burned approximately a half-acre. The Lincoln burned about a tenth-acre. And, the Mini burned a spot only the size of a trash can lid before it burned out on its own. The fires were named after vehicles due to their cause.

Suszek added, "We're really thankful for the quick response of the Chicamacomico Volunteer Fire Department. They pretty much had everything under control before we arrived on the scene."

These fires were the first to burn on Pea Island Refuge this year. Pea Island was not slated for prescribed burning during the 2008/2009 prescribed fire season. Due to past prescribed burns, a wildlife on this refuge has less potential to cause major damage. Pea Island is schedule for additional prescribed burning in the 2009/2010 season.

Photo credits: Lynn Belanich, NPS.

Fireman hoses brushfire next to dunes.
Firefighter with Chicamacomico Fire Department attacks flames in a roadside fire on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday.

Firetrucks and other emergency vehicles pulled off to the side of the road. The fire engine is spraying water on brush.
Chicamacomico Volunteer Fire Department engine provides final watering to make certain the fires are out.