Flare-ups generating smoke at Pains Bay

By on July 29, 2011

Smoke from a 110-acre flareup. (Cory Waters photo)

Small flareups are generating smoke from the Pains Bay fire in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, but officials report that it is still well-contained.

One flareup of more than 110 acres on the sound side of U.S. 264 is putting out significant smoke, the refuge reported in a statement Friday night.

Two other areas of ground fire adding up to about 10 acres are closer to Stumpy Point, but on the south side of the bay between the community and the refuge.

“We’ve gotten several calls from folks who are worried the Pains Bay Fire may take off again, said Fire Management Officer Tom Crews said in the statement. “We certainly want to assure people that we are monitoring the fire, and we’re aware it is burning in that area.  But, the location of this flare-up is completely surrounded by ‘black’ or water.  It’s really unlikely the fire could escape under these conditions.”

Crews fly over the area with infrared equipment several times a week to look for hotspots.

“This equipment lets us know where the hotspots are located,” said helibase manager Cory Waters. ” Sometimes it’s days before the spots produce enough smoke for us to actually see them with the naked eye,” he added, “so the infrared tells us where to watch more closely.”

The refuge has assigned an engine with three crew members and a helicopter with three crew members, the statement said, but the flare-ups cannot be reached by the engine. It said there was little to no danger of the fire escaping.

After burning more than 45,000 acres since May 4, the Pains Bay Fire was declared 100 percent contained a month ago.

Some smoke was reported in Manteo, but it was not known if it was originating at the refuge or from fires farther south and west or some combination of them.

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