April 25, 2016
Officials determine cause of Whipping
Creek fire, as highway reopens
investigators have announced that a grass mowing operation on the
shoulder of U.S. 264 on the near the Dare-Hyde county line
accidentally sparked the Whipping Creek wildfire on Monday, April 18.
At the same time, fire managers announced that the highway, which had
been closed off and on for much of the past week, has reopened to
The North Carolina Forest Service said in a news release that
maintenance along the right-of-way resulted in ignition that started
the fire that now covers 15,449 acres and is 54 percent contained.
"Mowing or bush-hogging of fine flashy fuels, such as dead grass or
leaves, can be a source of ignition when stones or other metal debris
is struck by the mowing blades," according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service news release.
U.S. 264 between Stumpy Point in Dare County and Engelhard in Hyde
County was reopened to traffic today, causing motorists to avoid a long
detour through Columbia. Though the fire is burning in a
remote area of public and private lands, including the Alligator
River National Wildlife Refuge, some Hyde residents use the route
regularly to travel to Dare County for work or other reasons.
"In days to come, increased fire or smoke behavior along the highway
may cause fire officials and local law enforcement to close the highway
at any time," fire managers said in a news release.
The NCDOT maintains a website that overviews road openings and closures on a real-time basis that can be accessed at: http://tims.ncdot.gov/tims/RegionSummary.aspx?re=8.
Fire managers recommend that drivers check the NCDOT website before
traveling this route. Residents and visitors traveling U.S. 264 should
be aware that firefighters and their equipment will be working along
the highway and adjust their speed accordingly. Drivers should also be
looking ahead for any utility poles or power lines that may have fallen
on the highway. Remember to treat all downed power lines as “live
wires” and keep a safe distance.
The highway was closed for much of Sunday while two CL-415 "Super
Scooper" aircraft worked in the area. The aircraft scooped water from
the Alligator River and dumped it on the wildfire. According to the
Fish and Wildlife Service the two Cl-415s made 126 rounds and dropped
203,112 gallons of water to strengthen fire control lines.
Today, firefighters continue to construct and improve containment lines
to support and monitor the fire perimeter for flare-ups. Fire crews
continue to monitor weather and fuel conditions for their daily
planning of suppression tactics.
The incident now has 153 firefighters and fire managers assigned to the
fire, primarily from the North Carolina Forest Service and the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
'Super Scooper' aircraft join fight against Whipping Creek Fire
Firefighters continue to battle Whipping Creek fire
Driven by yesterday's gusty winds, Whipping Creek fire continues to grow
Mainland wildfire doubled in size overnight