North Carolina Crews Battle Huge Wildfire

At the time, it was the largest wildfire in the country


(Dare County, NC) Fire crews from Dare County returned home on Monday June 16 from a five day deployment to the massive Evans Road wildfire in Hyde and Tyrrell Counties. Crews from the Buxton, Salvo, Nags Head, Southern Shores and Duck fire departments responded to a call from state officials for a task force of fire fighting units. Organized by the Dare County Fire Marshal, local firefighters augmented more than 500 firefighters in service at the peak of the blaze.

The Evans Road Fire, which was started by lightening on June 1st, has burned over 41,000 acres in Hyde and Tyrrell Counties including a substantial portion of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Smoke from the fire has choked the Outer Banks for nearly three weeks and its effects have been felt as far north as Richmond, Virginia. So far the effort to contain the fire has cost more than $4 million.

Four fire engine companies and a utility vehicle from Dare County participated in structural protection assignments and in regulating "back burns." Back burns are carefully controlled fires set by forestry officials in an effort to consume fuel in the path of the fire to stop its growth and progress. Each of the five fire departments rotated crews to cover the assignments to provide adequate staffing while protecting the staffing levels of their departments at home. As the progress of the fire was contained on Monday, the Forest Service began demobilizing the structural protection units and released the Dare County departments to return home.

Working from a base camp at the Matamuskeet High School, the firefighters were assigned to different areas within Hyde and Tyrrell Counties each day. Throughout the deployment, the Dare County firefighters worked along side firefighters from throughout North Carolina. On her return from the deployment, Duck Fire Chief Donna Black said: "This was a great opportunity for our people to gain experience in wildfire techniques and operate within a large scale incident command structure." She also said, "This incident provides a great example of the ability of our local fire departments to work with each other and departments throughout the state."

At the time that the growth of the Evans Road Fire was halted on Sunday night, it was the largest wildfire currently burning in the country.