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

July 29, 2011

Pains Bay Fire- Some Smoke, Some Fire, But Still Contained

Several spots within the perimeter of the Pains Bay Fire have flared up in the past few days. One flare-up, west of Pamlico Road on the soundside of US Highway 264, has reached a size of over 110 acres and is putting off a sizable amount of smoke. Fire Management Officer Tom Crews commented, "We've gotten several calls from folks who are worried the Pains Bay Fire may take off again. We certainly want to assure people that we are monitoring the fire, and we're aware it is burning in that area. But, the location of this flare-up is completely surrounded by 'black' or water. It's really unlikely the fire could escape under these conditions."

In addition to the flare-up described above, there are also two areas of ground fire closer to Stumpy Point, but on the south side of the bay. There are approximately 10 acres of ground fire at this location.

Helibase Manager Cory Waters reports that they fly the Pains Bay Fire area with infrared equipment several times a week. "This equipment lets us know where the hotspots are located. Sometimes it's days before the spots produce enough smoke for us to actually see them with the naked eye," he added, "so the infrared tells us where to watch more closely."

Currently, most of the documented ground fire is located on refuge land. The refuge has an engine with three crew and a helicopter with three crew assigned to the fire at this point. These resources continue to monitor the fire and are available to mop-up hotspots, as needed. Unfortunately, the current flare-ups are not within reach of the engine. Fortunately, there is little to no danger of the fire escaping.

The Pains Bay Fire was first reported on May 5, burned 45,294 acres, and was declared 100% contained more than a month ago. The fire is not expected to be controlled until the areas receives 4-6" of rain. Until that time, monitoring will continue.

Southeast spot on Pains Bay. In the original fire, this area did not burn thoroughly - commonly referred to as a 'dirty burn.' Now 110 + acres, this flare-up is burning fuels left by the original fire and fuels that have fallen to the ground since the fire. The fire is producing noticeable quantities of smoke. Motorists driving along US Hwy 264 have noticed flames, as well as smoke. Smoke was reported in Manteo this evening. It is unknown if this smoke was from the Pains Bay Fire, one of the other fires burning in eastern North Carolina at this time, or a combination. Photo credit: Cory Waters.