NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Progress is being made battling the “Great Lake Fire” in the Croatan National Forest. Officials also updated the number of acres that have burned after a flight evaluation over the impacted area.
The U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina said in a media release Monday evening that 32,400 acres have burned with 30% still contained as of 8 p.m. Officials said the new total was obtained “based on flight reconnaissance measurements.” It had been reported at 36,000 acres burned on Monday morning.
Work continued to improve and create new firelines around the main fire, officials said. Work also continued to mop up the remaining smoldering pockets within the interior. Firelines were also reinforced on the west, where Weyerhauser timber is located. A check of the eastern line of the fire showed “no significant heat was found along the boundary.”
A Temporary Flight Restriction was still in place over the fire area.
Crews say it’s the second-largest fire to ever burn in the Croatan National Forest.
The northernmost fire progression remains five miles southwest of Coastal Carolina Regional Airport and south of Countyline Road outside New Bern.
Cooler and cloudy conditions stuck around Monday, aiding in the battle. More rain was expected as early as Wednesday.
There are up to 245 people working the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Operational resources include personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, Craven County Emergency Services, Jones County Emergency Services, the U.S. Marine Corps and Weyerhaeuser Corporation.
In addition to updates being provided on the U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina Facebook page, a number has been established where you can call for more information: (252) 285-6174. An email address is 2023.GreatLakes@Firenet.gov.
Travelers on highways adjacent to the fire area should proceed with caution, especially on Hwy. 17 and Hwy. 70. Officials said to continue to expect smoke in the area, particularly in the mornings and evenings. More travel information could be found at DriveNC.gov.
The fire has forced Catfish Lake Road to close. The Black Lake OHV area remained closed until further notice.
Craven County officials asked people not to travel on County Line Road past the Bluewater Rise subdivision.
Updates on air quality can be found from several sources, including the NC Department of Environmental Quality, IQAir.com and AirNow.gov. Air quality remained poor for counties directly impacted by the fire: Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow counties.
Scope of the fire
The fire was first detected Wednesday evening, according to the United States Forest Service. Crews worked to put in containment lines around the fire, which was around 50 acres at the start. Limited growth happened on Thursday before the reported 7,000 acres early Friday.
By midday, the fire had reached 12,000 acres and was up to 17,000 acres later on Friday as primary and secondary containment lines were established on the eastern, southern and western sides of the fire, Parker said. That was done with an emphasis to protect private land to the north.
By the end of Friday, the fire had consumed 35,000 acres. It has grown five times its reported size of 7,000 acres, which was reported on Friday morning.
Croatan National Forest covers 160,000 acres and is home to a number of rare carnivorous plants like the Venus fly-trap, sunder and pitcher plant. It is remote and is bordered on three sides by bodies of water, including Bogue Sound.