A prescribed burn operation is occurring on Monday, March 18, within the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Smoke from the prescribed burn may have been responsible for a brief 15-minute power outage on Monday afternoon for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Power was restored as of 2:35 p.m.
Though the burn should not affect traffic, travelers should stay vigilant when driving through Pea Island on Monday, and should watch for possible light smoke on N.C. Highway 12.
Prescribed burns within the Outer Banks’ 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 typically 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 northern Hatteras Island.
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 light north-northeast winds under 10 mph forecast throughout Monday, the conditions are currently optimal for the operation.