Due to a wind shift to the north-northeast, which fits the requirements for a prescribed burning operation on the south end of Pea Island, the firing operation got underway on late Wednesday morning within the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Prescribed burns within the refuges serve multiple purposes, depending on the time of year. Generally occurring in the spring and the fall, the burns actually enhance safety in case of a wildfire, controls vegetation, and creates more desirable habitats for migratory birds.
One of the primary purposes of a springtime burn is to create a “safe zone” so that if a wildfire occurs and moves south, there is a break in the landscape that will give firefighters time to stop the wildfire before it impacts residences and structures in the tri-villages.
The spring is also an ideal time to do the prescribed burns, as the northeastern wind direction ensures that the fire and smoke generally stays off of the highway. With that being said, travelers should stay vigilant when driving through Pea Island on Wednesday, and should watch for fire trucks, and possible light smoke on N.C. Highway 12.