As is the case with too many other states, North Carolina is experiencing wildfires. Ours are near the coastal areas, where the dry pine forests burn easily and the peat bogs smolder for months, as much as eight feet beneath the ground.
There has not been much publicity about the ones in our area. The wildfires here are not nearly as large as the fires in Arizona, not to mention that the beaches would just as soon not spook the tourists. Some days may be smoky or hazy and some are fine. The smoke can travel for miles, creating Code Orange and even Code Purple (highest alert level) warnings several counties away.
One fire which began the first week of May near the Outer Banks has burned about 70 square miles and is now contained, but still has hot spots. Six inches of rain are needed to extinguish them.
Closer to our beach area, there are at least three wildfires burning in nearby counties–30,000 acres here, 20,000 acres there… a few homes, a lot of forest areas and wildlife habitats. It’s unimaginable to think what training at the nearby military bases must be like with heat, humidity, chiggers, mosquitoes, and heavy smoke.
The area is under extreme drought conditions and the Forestry Service has had little help from rainfall. They fight the fires not only with water from lakes, but because the fires are often in hard-to-reach areas, the firefighters also use tractors and backhoes, as well as planes and helicopters. They start backfires by air and ground methods to try to stop the path of the fires, but sometimes they have no choice but to just let them burn. By June 30, crews from as far away as Alaska and California were fighting 11 different wildfires in our area.
There are still lovely sunrises, as evidenced by this one BroJoe took on June 30.
Today the sky isn’t Carolina blue, but the sun is shining and the beaches are crowded with sunbathers, many of whom will be fooled by what the newspaper weather report calls “dimmed sunshine.” The Forestry Service won’t be able to help their burns.
The holiday weekend bumper-to-bumper traffic isn’t helping the air quality, but the area businesses are thrilled.
I found this fascinating, time-lapsed, night motion (vimeo) video of the Outer Banks made by photographer Daniel Lowe. While it does show some of the smoke around one of the coastal lighthouses, I’m including this mostly because there is some mind-blowing art going on here. The shots of the MIlky Way are awesome and the sound is eerily appropriate.