Wildfire in the Croatan: 7,000 acres burning, poor air quality halts after school activities
A wildfire is burning in the Croatan National Forest between Maysville and Havelock, and officials with the North Carolina Forest Service say smoke may impact the area for days.
United States and North Carolina Forest Service crews are fighting the Great Lake wildfire on the ground and in the air and officials say the fire is not close to any public roads or homes. It is estimated to cover about 7,000 acres.
An incident commander with the forest service said smoke will be visible and will impact the Catfish Lake and Great Lake Road areas, and could also cause limited visibility for drivers on U.S. 70.
Black Lake OHV area is closed.
In addition, officials at Havelock schools have canceled all after school activities, including sports, for Friday because of the poor air quality from the fire.
The fire is already bigger than last month's Last Resort fire in Tyrell County, which burned 5,280 acres required 438 million gallons to control.
Satellite photos show smoke traveling northward, with some reports of smoke being seen as far as Greenville and as far east as Kinston. In New Bern, the air is hazy and smoky, the sky tinted orange, and the air quality poor.
As of 4:45 p.m., the North Carolina Division of Air Quality's air quality index reports Craven and Jones Counties at a level purple, or "very unhealthy" for all people. Pitt, Beaufort and Pamlico counties are an "unhealthy" level — level red — which means some people, especially sensitive groups, may have more serious health effects.
Tomorrow's air quality for Craven and Jones is forecasted to remain at level purple as firefighters continue combatting the fire. A passing cold front late tomorrow should act to push this smoke to the east.
*updated 4:50 p.m. on April 21.