Code Purple, Code Red Conditions Expected This Weekend

Code Purple and Code Red air quality alerts are expected for the Memorial Day holiday weekend for mainland Dare County thanks to smoke from the Pains Bay Wildlife.

It is the first time a Code Purple alert has been issued because of the fire, which has burned for more than three weeks outside of Stumpy Point.

The state says Code Orange conditions are predicted for the weekend for Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

Winds are pushing the smoke to the north, and that's expected to last through the weekend.

The fire remains at 65% contained.

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The portion of Highway 264 closed because of the Dare County wildfire re-opened Thursday. It will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

The fire remains at 65% contained and an estimated 28,062 acres have been scorched from the flames.

Smoke continues to be a problem for nearby residents. Once again forecasters have predicted Code Red air quality in Manteo and portions of mainland Dare County. Code Orange conditions could occur in Camden, Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties.

The fire was detected three weeks ago and foresters say it began by lightning.

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Firefighters battling a new front on a long-burning wildfire in Dare County say they have kept the fire from spreading past new containment lines.

Authorities say a few windy days have helped spread the fire. They said Wednesday they continue to monitor the Pains Bay Wildfire to see if they need to evacuate the town of Stumpy Point. So far, no one has been ordered to leave.

Officials at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge say they are relocating captive red wolves away from the fire.

Authorities have readjusted the number of acres burned to 28,062.

Meanwhile, the state is again warning people in Dare County of unhealthy air conditions.

Forecasters have predicted Code Red in Manteo and portions of mainland Dare County. This as Code Orange conditions, or air quality that is unhealthy for sensitive groups, could occur in parts of Camden, Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties.

The fire started three weeks ago from a lightning strike.

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Firefighters say the Pains Bay Wildfire continues to burn uncontrolled and has now grown to 29,000 acres.

The fire has now closed a larger portion of U.S. 264. That highway is now closed from the U.S. 64 intersection to the Hyde County line. Only local residents will be allowed access into Stumpy Point.

Thirty mile per hour winds Monday helped push the three week old fire out of containment lines. Foresters say overnight the fire had crossed two roads, but had not crossed back over 264.

Forecasters are predicting a Code Red air quality alert for Wednesday as the smoke drifts north and eastward. That Code Red will impact residents in Dare, Hyde and Tyrrell counties.

A Code Orange alert is predicted for Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Tyrrell and Washington counties.

A community meeting is scheduled for Stumpy Point residents at 6:30 p.m. so they can ask questions about the fire situation and evacuation plans.

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Fire officials say there is no immediate threat to Stumpy Point after that giant wildfire expanded in Dare County.

Spokesman Chris Carlson tells WITN News that they are still assessing the full threat to the village. Monday evening the community was ordered evacuated, but that was cancelled some 45 minutes later. About 200 people live in the community.

High winds Monday afternoon allowed the Pains Bay Wildfire to jump containment lines and get about a mile and a half from the village. Because of the outbreak, the fire jumped to 26,678 acres and is now 65% contained.

Highway 264 had reopened Monday on a limited basis, but was again closed due to the fire's expansion. Carlson says he doesn't anticipate the highway to reopen today.

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Officials say they're evaluating "hour by hour" whether the Dare County community of Stumpy Point should be evacuated to protect residents from the Pains Bay Wildfire. As of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, no evacuation had been ordered.

Monday afternoon heavy smoke from the Pains Bay Wildfire was again affecting nearby communities and officials said there would be an evacuation of Stumpy Point, but it was quickly called off about 6:30 p.m.

Gusty winds whipped up the wildfire Monday, causing it to spot across control lines and reducing containment of the fire from 85% Sunday to 65% Monday night.

The wildfire was sparked by lightning May 5th and crews had managed to control the fire enough Monday to re-open Highway 264 between Stumpy Point and Englehard during daylight hours which was shut down weeks ago because excessive smoke caused dangerous driving conditions.

That wildfire in Dare County had been 80-85% contained since May 12th which was good news for the 200 or more residents of the Stumpy Point community until Monday afternoon. Now the fire has grown to 26,678 acres.

"After May 12th we had it contained and we've been putting out hot spots and smoldering peat trying to reduce the smoke and get 264 open and this is sorta a set back but this too shall pass," said Chris Carlson with the NC Forestry Department.

Fire officials now say flames are headed north toward Navy Shell Road near the Navy bombing range away from Stumpy Point, but the fire is still only about 1.5 miles from the community. Crews will make a decision at sunrise Tuesday if Highway 264 will re-open.

The Dare County Sheriff's Department and Emergency Management team called for an evacuation of Stumpy Point Monday afternoon and then called it off just before 6:30 p.m. A public information officer for the Pains Bay Fire says no one was ever evacuated from their home and officials will take the situation hour-by-hour.

Stumpy Point is now being evacuated because the Pains Bay Wildfire. The fire this afternoon jumped across a key containment line, one of the trigger points to evacuate the community.

Some 200 people live in Stumpy Point, and so far no temporary emergency shelters have been set up.

Roger Miller, a public information officer with the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources, tells WITN the fire is 1.5 miles from Stumpy Point. He says winds are in a southerly direction, but the fire could spread toward the homes as a flanking-type fire. Miller says U.S. 264 has also been shut down because of the spreading fire.

Miller says the evacuation of the community is being done as a precaution.

The fire crossed containment lines around 4:00 p.m. Because of 30 mile per hour winds, a helicopter is not having much luck dropping water on the flames.

The fire has consumed some 25,600 acres and has been burning since May 5th.

Stay with WITN News and for more on this developing story.

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Officials say Highway 264 reopened Monday between Stumpy Point and Engelhard for limited hours during the day with drivers escorted by officials. The highway has been closed for weeks because of a massive wildfire in the area.

Fire officials have determined that roadway conditions in the Dare County area are now safe enough for drivers, but they say it will only be open for public travel during daylight hours.

Officials say initially travel will be limited to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and all drivers will be escorted. Drivers should expect up to 30 minutes wait at check points.

Fire officials plan to extend the hours of travel in coming days as smoke along the roadway subsides.

Fire officials warn the traveling public that delays may be necessary at times due to heavy smoke on the highway or fire suppression activities.

Fire officials are hopeful that this initial re-opening will help ease some of the inconvenience that commuters and businesses have encountered due to the Pains Bay Fire.

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  • by anon on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:15 PM
    well stoked what are you doing to help? If you know so much about it why are you on here typing instead of helping?????
  • by stoked Location: nc on Jun 3, 2011 at 01:14 PM
    You know it never fails everyone has to complain and gripe about something at least if you were going to do that you should do so on things that could be changed. You know they have had the heilo's bringing in a bucket of water and hauling a bucket of smoke out i just dont know what you people want them to do..... lets try an experment go out side and gather some wood and grass and put them in a pile ... now light them ans tell me if you can control the smoke...... I bet you cant. If you are getting bothered with the smoke just think how everyone that is helping on the fire feels. atleast you can go inside and take shelter from the heat and smoke but they cant....... lets have a little compassion for the brave men and women that is fighting this fire...
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      by anon on Jun 8, 2011 at 06:05 AM in reply to stoked
      well stoked if they had put the fire out when they had the chance i wouldnt be worried about this smoke now would I?
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        by stoked on Jun 9, 2011 at 09:14 AM in reply to anon
        well i guess if you know so much on how to put that fire out shouldnt you go and try to help instead of just complaining oh wait thats all you really know how to do is complain i have seen you on here all the time and all you have ever done is complain. They are doing everything that they can to put it out just because you dont know how it works you should really keep your mouth shut.
  • by Vick Location: PA on Jun 1, 2011 at 09:12 AM
    just curious - if portions of this fire are on the Dare County Range, then why isn't the military there in a large capacity helping to fight these fires? The Incident report I read listed VOLUNTEERS from 22 states, but there is nothing specific about total number of military personnel or equipment?
  • by anon rapper Location: wilson on May 27, 2011 at 06:44 PM
    And NC don't even have a volcano or a glacier ! Hot doggie .
  • by bob Location: obx on May 27, 2011 at 02:01 PM
    sounnds like to many chiefs and not enough indians fighting this fire, typical government. you can also thank bev for cutting planes and funding to the state guys who are now getting help from about 10 other states. nc had one of the biggest water bombers at 2500 gals per drop, it was also cut in the budget. so now we can pay $20,000 an hour for the big helocopter to drop 750 gals per drop! they need alot of rain fast!
    • reply
      by Johnson on May 27, 2011 at 02:28 PM in reply to bob
      Yep! Well said,Bob. Some get $30.00 an hour to ride around and try to look important. Entirely to many chiefs.That plane would have come in handy. Maybe we will get that much needed rain this weekend. Fingers crossed..
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      by Ed on May 28, 2011 at 06:14 AM in reply to bob
      Actually, the 'copters are better, even with a smaller capacity. they are much more maneuverable when dropping on hot spots. Tankers just blanket the place, wasting much by putting it where it's not needed. Also, the 'copters do not have a long turn around time, dipping in canals, the bay, etc. and don't have to leave or land to refill. Also, there are more indians than chiefs on this on if you must know. Look at the manpower list and equipment list. Ground fire in the ARNWR and DBR is jsut plain nasty and jsut because it's not going away as fast as it started, don't get angry and start criticizing. Spend some time helping out with drinks, fruit, donations of wipes or something and get a feel for what's going on.
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      by anon on Jun 1, 2011 at 08:47 AM in reply to bob
      Bob, the plane that NC lost dropped only 1500 gallons, and would help control the fire as it escapes containment, but would not aid in getting rid of the smoke. It also would not be of much assistance in keeping the fire contained as it would time out on maintenance requirements pretty quick and not be available if the fire escaped. It would have been nice to have on the initial run though. Ed's right, at this point the helos are the best resource as they can pinpoint their drops and that aids in preventing escape. As far as the chief and indian thing, you've got it all wrong, but I can understand your ignorance, since you don't know the command structure on large fires like this. Every supervisor has to supervise from 3 to 7 subordinates. those subordinates may be supervisors themselves. Any more, and safety is compromised. Any less, and the supervisory position is dissolved and the resources are incorporated under another supervisor.
  • by Johnson Location: Stumpy Point on May 26, 2011 at 06:32 PM
    I understand and DO appreciate the hard working men and women fighting this fire. The folks on the front line.But am sick of the glory boys who ride around in their trucks posing for pictures and accepting accolades when they have'nt really done anything? I'll give them a pat on the back when the two who are eat-up with self importance get off theirs tails and make a RIGHT call for a change, to save this village. But it remains to be seen..Now,let us pray......
    • reply
      by anon on Jun 1, 2011 at 08:51 AM in reply to Johnson
      The two guys you speak of are information officers, who are doing their job. Not everyone their is supposed to be fighting the fire, someone has to work with the media to get the word out on road closures, latest news on the fire, etc. This is done so that the public can stay informed as to what's going on. they do a good job, however much of it never makes the news, but that's not up to them, that's up to the media outlets. They do this so that the guys actually fighting the fire won't have to be distracted by media from working to control the fire. There is a reason for everything you see, although I can understand it may not be clear at the time.
  • by Johnson Location: Stumpy Point on May 26, 2011 at 06:12 PM
    Not at all confident that these guys can keep this fire from getting to the village. Seems they already have an evacuation plan to run as soon as they lose control AGAIN! Hollywood and sidekick should be held accountable. Lets not be to hasty to give praise, we're not out of the woods just yet..
  • by James Location: enc on May 25, 2011 at 10:25 AM
    I would like to thank all those working on this fire. These fires are a lot differnt than most. Several thousand acres of this fire is burning 3-6 feet deep in the peet. These fires can be extremely hard to extinguish. Without rain this could continue for several more weeks if not months. Here is todays update. Name: Pains Bay Fire Location: Dare County, approximately 19 miles south of Manns Harbor. Size:28,062 acres Containment: 65% Number of Personnel Assigned: 154 Responding Agencies:U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; North Carolina Division of Forest Resources; U.S. Forest Service; National Park Service; Department of Defense - Air Force; Bureau of Land Management; Bureau of Indian Affairs. Summary: The fire is being managed under a unified command between USFWS and NCDFR. Heavy smoke was seen yesterday in Manteo and other communities to the north of the fire. The smoke may affect areas to the west of the fire today due to changing wind direction. U.S. Hwy. 264 has been closed from U.S. 64 to Stomper Rd. near the Dare-Hyde County line. Only local Stumpy Point residents will be allowed access.
    • reply
      by Formerly O.L.I. on May 25, 2011 at 02:49 PM in reply to James
      Exactly. Let those who can comprehend, read. People do not understand that we live on planet Earth, and nothing is guaranteed. People today think they should be constantly climate-controlled, plenty of food, transportation unlimited, a place to go 'toilet', and none of this should ever go bye-bye...people better wake up and get back to basics.
    • reply
      by Private ContractorPRO on May 27, 2011 at 03:01 PM in reply to James
      You have a thick root mat that is no more than one foot.Then you may have in places 2 foot of peat.Then you have no more than two feet of topsoil.Dude three feet and you are passed at the water table. 2 feet past the top of that topsoil is pure gumbo clay.There is no 6 foot of peat.And if there was it would not burn in the water.I have fought these types of fires in the past and helped clear 1000's and 1000's of acres of this type of land.I know whats down there.I would like to thank everybody too that has a hand in this but please speak of something you factually know something about.
  • by jerry Location: enc on May 25, 2011 at 09:05 AM
    Maybe if the wind would take the majority of the smoke to Raleigh so Bev would have to blow smoke out of her nose instead of somewhere else, she would DO SOMETHING!
  • by Emma Location: Raleigh on May 25, 2011 at 01:00 AM
    There hasn't been alot of rain atleast not significant amounts. My brother is one of many brave foresters working diligently to deal with this fire. They are working long hours in EXTREMELY HAZZARDOUS conditions. Everyone on the coast(Dare,Tyrell,Hyde etc)please be careful. I am praying for EVERYONE and to my little brother "Buddy" I am proud of the job you are doing.
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