The state has now spent nearly $3 million fighting a wildfire that started a month ago in Pender County.
North Carolina Forest Service officials said the fire is 85 percent contained and has burned more than 31,000 acres since starting on June 19 from a lightning strike.
Firefighters say the soil could continue to burn for weeks and send more smoke over the region unless the area gets a prolonged, heavy rainfall.
The fire is burning primarily in the Holly Shelter Game Land. Officials have closed the preserve to the public because the burned soil has made many of the trees unstable.
Authorities say 46 firefighters will continue to fight the blaze, looking for spot fires outside the containment area and building better containment lines.
The wildfire is currently 85 percent contained. Officials issued code orange air quality alerts for Onslow and Duplin Counties today.
Forestry officials report they now have the Juniper Road Wildfire in Pender County 85 percent contained.
However, the smoke from the fire is still causing unhealthy air in some parts of Eastern Carolina. Residents along and near the coast will see the worst air quality levels Wednesday.
Code red air quality levels have been issued for parts of Pender and Onslow Counties. The eastern part of Onslow County, southern areas of Jones and Craven Counties and western Carteret County are all under code orange alert.
Ground fire increased Monday at the Juniper Road wildfire in Pender County. Officials blame the hotter and drier weather conditions, which will only continue to worsen Tuesday.
Officials say without abundant rainfall on the fire, the smoke could persist for the rest of the summer.
Code purple air quality is forecast for parts of Pender and Onslow counties. Code red warnings extend into Onslow, Jones, Craven and Carteret counties Tuesday.
Crews working the Pains Bay Wildfire in Dare County are pulling back, keeping only their local units at the fire. The fully contained fire is showing decreased fire activity.
Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
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