May 27, 2011

UPDATE:  Firefighters continue to battle wildfire; U.S. 264 is now open


Firefighters continue to battle the Pains Bay Fire on the Dare County mainland.  It is burning mostly on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, but has threatened the village of Stumpy Point.

The fire started on May 5 with a lightning strike and spread quickly in the first few days of gusty wind and low humidity.

By the end of last week, firefighters had the blaze mostly under control and 80 percent contained.

The fire continued to burn, however, in underground peat deposits on the swampy refuge, and flared up again on Monday.

Dare County considered evacuating Stumpy Point on Monday.  However, some progress has been made, and it’s a “wait-and-see” situation for the fishing community.

Firefighters have continued to make progress this week, and today were battling the fire on the northern perimeter, according to public information officer Diane Steltz.

Steltz said the firefighters were dousing the fire with water from the ground and with four helicopters in the air.

Today, the fire  is 65 percent contained and burning about 27,300 acres.

This morning, U.S. 264 between Stumpy Point and Engelhard was re-opened to traffic. It has been closed for most of the time since the fire started, was briefly re-opened earlier in the week and then closed again.

Today, Steltz said there is little or no smoke on the highway.

Heavy smoke has continued to be a problem in nearby communities this week, especially in the northern Outer Banks. Hatteras and Ocracoke had smoky conditions early Saturday, but the air has remained clear since then.

About 200 personnel are involved in fighting the fire.

This week, Chicamacomico Banks, Salvo, and Avon fire departments joined the effort.

Also involved in the fighting the fire and support services are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; North Carolina Division of Forest Resources; Department of Defense - Air Force; Stumpy Point, Manns Harbor, and Roanoke Island fire departments, and Dare County Emergency Management Services. Firefighters from 25 states are assigned to the fire.


Smoke advisories for the area can be found at: and more information on air quality is available at

Additional information on the fire, including announcements, photos, and maps can be found by visiting Inciweb or Facebook

Live satellite imagery of the smoke plumes be found at

Previous Island Free Press articles on the wildfire:

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