CRESWELL, N.C. (WNCT) — The NC Forest Service reports the “Last Resort Fire” burning in Tyrrell County is now at 45% contained and 5,200 acres in size, WNCT’s Abigail Velez reports, as of 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Velez also reports the number of people helping fight the fire has been cut down. Significant rain from Sunday evening and Monday morning has greatly impacted the efforts to contain the fire. Some areas received up to an inch of rain, according to the NC Forest Service.
Shifting winds mean areas like Columbia and the Outer Banks could see more smoke overnight and into Tuesday. Areas to the west, including Belhaven, Pantego and Scranton can also expect to be impacted by smoke, officials said.
The smell of smoke from this fire made its way to Hampton Roads over the weekend. WAVY Meteorologist Ricky Matthews said the southerly winds and warm front contributed to bringing the smell to our area.
A media release states that efforts continue to improve containment lines and that crews would continue to monitor the situation. Winds were shifting easterly and pushing smoke west of the impacted area. Areas like Roper and Creswell in Washington County, which is next to Tyrrell County, would continue to be most impacted.
Paulique Horton is the owner of Barnyard Betsy’s in Creswell. She said the lingering smoke has her concerned for some of her customers.
“My concern is our elderly and our children, asthma can be up, sinuses can be affected by what’s happening, but fortunately, none of our customers have complained about it yet,” Horton said.
“The smoke has really been bad and really thick, so all (Monday) morning, you couldn’t even see the road almost, driving this morning,” Tyrrell County resident Ted Clifton said.
On Monday morning, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said smoke from the fire was reducing visibility on roads across inland Eastern North Carolina. Tyrrell County Schools also announced Sunday that classes would begin one hour later on Monday due to the smoke from the fire. Some Washington County schools also started late Monday due to the smoke.
“Be safe, be careful and look out for yourself because no one else is going to look out for you, and if you have children that need special attention, you need to look out for them first,” Creswell Mayor Edwin Blount said.
“Motorists throughout the region should be aware of the possibility of suddenly reduced visibility,” NCDOT said in a press release. “Drivers have reported heavy pockets of smoke in Tyrrell, Hertford and Gates counties, and moderate smoke in Currituck and Camden counties.”
There is a chance for road closures as needed.
Superintendent of Pettigrew Park, Jim Trostle, said crews were hard at work trying to contain the fire.
“North Carolina Forestry is out there, some U.S. Fish and Wildlife because of the impact of the refuge,” Trostle said. “Just for the general public, be aware when you’re out on the roads of the heavy smoke and fog in the area.”
According to the National Weather Service, drivers should keep the following safety tips in mind if travel is necessary in foggy conditions:
- Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Make your vehicle visible to others in front of you and behind you. Use your low-beam headlights. Use fog lights if you have them.
- Never use your high-beam lights. High-beam lights cause glares, making it more difficult to see what’s ahead of you on the road.
- Leave plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for sudden stops or change in traffic patterns.
- To ensure you are staying in the proper lane, follow the lines on the road with your eyes.
- In extremely dense fog where visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on your hazard lights, then simply pull into a safe location such as a parking lot of a local business and stop.
- If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road as far as possible. Once you come to a stop, turn off all lights except your hazard flashing lights, set the emergency break, and take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the taillights are not illuminated so that other drivers don’t mistakenly run into you.
There are no injuries and no structures threatened at this time. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Officials are also warning people to keep drones away from the wildfire.
“While drones provide unique opportunities for aerial video and imagery of wildfire activity, they are unauthorized. Flying a drone near or around a wildfire compromises the safety of pilots and interferes with firefighting efforts,” the NC Forest Service reports.