CAUSE IDENTIFIED: Fire results from mowing operations
Published 4:18 pm Monday, April 25, 2016
HYDE COUNTY — Law enforcement identified the cause of the Whipping Creek Fire on Sunday night, saying it resulted from a “right-of-way maintenance operation.”
“Mowing or bush-hogging of fine flashy fuels such as dead grass or leaves can be a source of ignition when stones or other metal debris is struck by the mowing blades,” a press release stated.
The Whipping Creek Fire has spread to more than 15,400 acres and is at 62-percent containment, according to Tuesday’s release.
Two CL-415 air tankers were called in to dump water from the Alligator River on the northeastern fire perimeter, starting at 9 a.m. Sunday and continuing into the evening. The CL-415s made a total of 126 rounds, dropping 203,112 gallons of water on the blaze, according to officials.
The air tanker operation led to the closure of a portion of U.S. Highway 264 throughout the day Sunday, but it has since been reopened.
Bill Swartley, public information officer for the Incident Command Post Fire Information Center, said the state Department of Transportation continues to monitor road conditions and may reclose portions due to dense smoke.
Drivers are still advised to watch for damaged power poles or guardrails on the highway.
Fire crews expected the blaze to grow again by Monday due to forecasted sunny skies and low humidity. Despite the land drying out after weekend showers, officials are hoping for minimal spread during the first of the week, an incident report stated.
Crews are continually monitoring the fire perimeter via infrared camera technology.
The Whipping Creek Fire has been active since April 18, and its spread fluctuated throughout last week. Crews are working all day to contain it, according to Swartley, and night operations began Friday.
The operation has 146 firefighters and managers assigned to the fire, mostly from N.C. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tuesday’s release stated.
The areas affected include N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission game lands, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Air Force property and the Nature Conservancy.
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality lists Tuesday’s air quality report in Hyde and Dare counties as “Code Yellow,” meaning a reduced risk as compared to Monday.
Crews set a goal to have the fire contained by the first week of May, according to incident reports. Nearby communities are under no threat from the fire.
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