Local smoke from Hyde County fire

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008

People as far north as Franklin, Va

have been smelling the effects of a fire that is burning three hours away.

A blaze that began Sunday at approximately noon in the Ponzer area of Hyde County, N.C., is expected to burn for weeks, according to Emergency Management Director for Hyde County Tony Spencer.

“I haven’t heard an update today,” he said Tuesday about noon, “but as of yesterday (Monday), 1,700 acres are burning.”

Spencer said that the woods and brush that are aflame are adjacent to some fields and Poquoson Lakes, a national wildlife refuge.

“The refuge is not in danger at the present time,” he said. “But it depends on weather conditions.”

The North Carolina Division of Forestry Resources is the lead agency handling the situation, said Spencer. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel from Poquoson Lakes have also been involved.

“There are about 60 people involved today. About five or six fire departments also have assisted from time to time.

“Aircraft is being used to get to some of the areas.”

He said that he hoped crews would have the blaze contained in “a day or so.”

Spencer also noted that a ground fire such as this is typically handled by flooding the area, in this case by bringing in water, perhaps, from the nearby lake.

Although heavy smoke is in close proximity to only a few residents, those people have not had to be evacuated as of yet.

Spencer said it is believed the fire started from a lightning strike.

On Tuesday, smoke and its tell-tale smell blanketed portions of Hertford and Gates counties.

(Wendy Walker is a staff writer for the Tidewater News in Franklin, Va., a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.)