Crews work to further contain fire

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HYDE COUNTY — The Whipping Creek Fire has spread to 15,449 acres, but containment has increased to 62 percent, according to officials on Tuesday.

Crews used infrared camera technology on a perimeter flight Monday to determine areas in need of attention, and hot spots were doused with helicopter water drops, according to a press release.

Minimal fire growth was expected on Tuesday, but officials continually monitor weather conditions for high temperatures, low humidity and increased wind, all of which work to fuel a fire.

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 by Whipping Creek Fire include some private lands, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission game lands, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Air Force property and the Nature Conservancy.

On Sunday night, law enforcement identified the cause of the fire as a “right-of-way maintenance operation,” likely sparks from mowing equipment.

The state Department of Transportation cleared U.S. Highway 264 to reopen, but drivers are advised to watch for potentially hazardous infrastructure damaged by the fire.

The Whipping Creek Fire has been active since April 18, and crews estimate it will continue to burn through the beginning of May. Health risks due to air quality are minimal.

Nearby communities are under no threat, as the fire is mostly consuming forestland.