Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 329
Columbia, North Carolina 27925

Contact: Howard Phillips- 252-796-3004 ext 226


News Release

June 8, 2008

Firebreaks 101

Evans Road Fire
Aerial view of Evans Road- namesake for the fire currently burning in Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties. The fire started on June 1 on private land south of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Currently, the Pungo Unit of Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public, primarily due to the fact that the Evans Road side is considered to be "contained". Note the firebreak to the right of Evans Road. This firebreak and others like it are strategically located throughout national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina. These are not solid walls against fire. But they are considered to be defensible space. In the event the fire runs toward Evans Road, firefighters have this open space where they can irrigate, use plows, or fight the fire in other ways.

Tractor Plows "Potato Patching"
"Potato patching" is a term firefighters use to describe the practice of plowing side-by-side to produce a wide plowed area... a "potato patch". This type of plowing turns the soil over, creating a moist surface less susceptible to fire. This is a type of fire break and creates defensible space.

Aerial View of "Potato Patches"
Aerial view of "potato patch" plowed area adjacent to a refuge road.