Northeast Region Fire Program
Northeast Region
Sunset over a burned Atlantic white cedar restoration area at South One Fire
South One Wildlife on Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, 2008

The South One Fire at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk, Virginia, burned 4,884-acres. It started in June, 2008 when equipment sparked a fire at a logging site on the refuge. Fueled by logging slash and record drought, the fire quickly spread and burned deep into peat soils. Firefighters tried several ways to extinguish the fire and eventually used high volume pumps to flood areas and saturate the soil. The fire smoldered for four months until a series of coastal storms in the fall finally put it out completely.

Lasting 121 days and costing over 12 million dollars, the South One fire was the longest burning and most expensive fire in Virginia's history. Smoke from the fire blew into the popular Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, which is home to about 2 million people.

The fire was a setback for restoration of Atlantic white cedar because many newly restored areas with young cedars were burned. Although this species often grows back after fire, loss of organic soils to a depth of 1-3 feet in places may have destroyed cedar seeds. However, not all was lost because some young cedar stands did not burn and the refuge replanted burned areas with seedlings grown from seeds previously collected from the swamp.

Read about the planting of Atlantic white cedar trees in the wake of the South One Fire.

Stories from the South One Fire

Civil Air Patrol Lends Assistance

Hazard Trees – Our Greatest Danger

Young Men and Women Help Wildfire

Flatwoods Crews Support Virginia Fire

Specialized Equipment on the Fire Line


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Last updated: April 25, 2014