Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
May 6, 2011
Pains Bay Fire Breaks on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
A wildfire in the area between Pains and Parched Corn Bays and south of US 264 on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge was reported yesterday afternoon. Firefighters from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NC Forest Service responded to the fire, which was most likely caused by lightning. With relative humidity in the mid-30's and gusty winds from the southwest, the fire is moving northeast toward the Dare Range.
Early this morning, Refuge Manager Mike Bryant described the fire as being approximately 225 acres. "By setting some backfires, we are attempting to hold the fire south of US 264 and between the canals that come off Pains and Parched Corn Bays, which would keep it at around 2800 acres," he said. At that point, the major concern was smoke on US 264.
But, since this morning's evaluation, the fire has spread considerably, due to dry fuel conditions and 17-25 mph southwest winds. Shortly after lunch, the fire jumped the canal between Parched Corn Bay and US 264 and continued to spread to the northeast on the east side of US 264. It also jumped US 264 and continued to burn toward the Dare Range. "The area north of US 164 is of particular concern for several reasons," commented Bryant. "Between the refuge and the range, there's a large compartment with no roads. That makes great wildlife habitat, but it makes it difficult to fight fires. This area also has some areas of very deep peat deposits."
At this writing, Fire Management Officer Tom Crews is in the process of ordering an Incident Management Team through the Southern Area Coordination Center to manage this fire. These teams are specially trained and have worked together to fight fires and handle other incidents, such as hurricane response.
At 2:30 pm today, the fire had grown to approximately 2,000 acres. At this point, US 264 is closed; however, it is expected to reopen today. Those who must drive on US 264 are advised to use extreme caution and be aware that firefighters may be coming and going from the highway.
At this point, there are no private properties, homes, or other structures in immediate danger from the fire. The wildlife in eastern North Carolina are adapted to wildfires and should not suffer long-term effects from this fire.