Almost a week after a controlled burn got out of hand, foresters say they now have that big wildfire in the Croatan National Forest 70% contained.
So far some 21,331 acres have been scorched by the fire. The U.S. Forest Service says today they are starting a round-the-clock pumping operation to help dowse the fire with water from Great Lake. At least six big pumps are now working at the fire along with 131 personnel from several states.
Catfish Lake Road remains closed because of the fire, while Code Red and Code Orange air quality alerts remain for several counties around the fire because of the smoke.
The U.S. Forest Service says containment has jumped significantly in the fire in the Croatan National Forest in Craven County.
Officials said Thursday morning the fire is now 60% contained, a huge improvement from the previous figure of 25% containment. Officials credit improved weather conditions allowing them to continue to burn along containment lines and control the fire.
The Forest Service says it has cost about $300,000 so far to fight the blaze. It began after foresters started a controlled burn of just 1,500 acres.
The focus now is bringing in water to extinguish the hot spots still burning the peat soil. The amount of land still involved in active ground fire is much smaller than the overall size of the fire itself, which is listed at 21,331 acres, which is about 33 square miles.
Some 100 firefighters from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are battling the fire.
Forest Service officials said Wednesday they expected full containment by June 30.
With more than 21,000 acres burned and predictions that the fire in the Croatan National Forest won't be 100% contained until the end of the month, U.S. Forest Service officials do have some good news to share. They say fire lines are holding.
Conditions in Craven County were a little hazy in some of the areas where we were Wednesday, but they were not awful. Officials say they are targeting peat fires which are the main culprit for heavy smoke.
The burned out areas near the fire are parts of the actual fire line intended to keep the fire from advancing as the forest service aims for the fire to consume itself. Helicopters with water scoopers swooped overhead making strategic drops.
Public information officer Don Simon says that they have academic experts assisting with the peat fires which are causing all that nuisance smoke. Simon says, "They're going to come out and evaluate what we've got here. They're going to look at our soils, look at the water table they are going to look at every aspect that could affect a peat fire and try to determine the best approach to reducing it."
U.S. Congressman Walter Jones has called for an investigation into why the forest service conducted the prescribed burn during windy weather. The forest service says that investigation will take place after the fire is out.
The U.S. Forest Service now says it doesn't expected full containment of the wildfire burning in the Croatan National Forest until the end of the month.
Firefighters do say they are making progress fighting the wildfire, which they call the Dad fire.
According to officials, just over 21,300 acres have gone up in flames since Saturday. That's a little over 33 square miles. They report 6,000 of those acres were intentionally burned Monday in an effort to stop the blaze.
Forest Service officials report the fire is 20 percent contained. Wednesday morning they said if containment lines hold, the Forest Service doesn't expect much increase in the size of the fire.
There have been no injuries and no damage.
A big part of the fire is in the Sheep Ridge Wilderness area.
Heavy smoke areas include New Bern and Highways 70, 17 and 58.
According to a press release, "more than 100 firefighters and other personnel are involved in the effort, including employees of the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Defense, and other agencies."
The fire started after a controlled burn late last week got out of hand. Congressman Walter Jones is asking for an investigation into that controlled burn. The congressman is concerned that the fire is hurting tourism and public health.
The Forest Service says an after-incident investigation will take place on the fire itself and the prescribed burn that took place.
The huge fire that's burning out of control in Craven County continues to grow.
The U.S. Forest Service says the fire in the Croatan National Forest is now 21,000 acres. It could take a week to fully contain the fire.
Foresters say additional personnel are on their way to help battle the fire.
Firefighters are burning out areas along the Holston Hunter Road and Seaborne Road in order to rid the fire of fuel and discouraging it from spreading beyond the two roads.
Catfish Lake Road, between Highway 70 and Highway 58 remains closed because of the wildfire and officials say the road may not reopen until at least Tuesday night.
The D.O.T. also says the smoke is making travel on Highway 58, between Maysville and Cape Carteret, hazardous. They are telling motorists to use caution and to take alternate routes if possible.
Those conditions for Highway 58 are expected to last through Thursday, according to the D.O.T.
The Forest Service says fire is only 10% contained and they expect it fully contained by June 25th.
According to officials, the fire began as a controlled burn on Thursday. It was slated to go through Saturday on about 2,000 acres along South Little Road near the center of the forest. Then officials say around 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday the fire became out of control and they are now working to contain it. As of Sunday night around 8,000 acres had burned in the Sheep Ridge Wilderness area.
Firefighters are working to contain the fire.
Officials say the fire is not threatening any property and it is not near any neighborhoods.