Smoky morning

The wildfire at the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near here is still burning. This is what Washington Street looked like when I went outside around six o'clock this morning. We’re about three blocks from the Roanoke River and Plymouth’s downtown business district on Water Street. Normally I can see all the way to Water Street. But the wind shifted sometime last night, and smoke from the fire had settled over the town this morning.

The fire was started by a lightning strike on June 1. The official update from the state Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is that the fire has not increased from the 41,000 acres that have been burning for several weeks. About 330 firefighters are battling the blaze.

The fire is about 75 percent contained, but won’t be extinguished until we get a tropical weather system that dumps a lot of rain in a very short time. It’s burning peat, so all they can do at the moment is try to keep the fire from spreading. A joint news release today from the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service says the firefighters are pumping water from nearby lakes and canals to dampen the peat, and they're also going to dig a test well near the fire in hopes that that will provide more water for firefighters.

More information about the fire is at http://inciweb.org/state/34.

So we’re in for a long, smoky summer.

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