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Great Lake fire grows to 35,000 acres, southern region wildfire crew bringing help to ENC

The fire ballooned from 7,000 acres to 35,000 on Friday

The Great Lakes Fire in the Croatan National Forest has grown to more than 35,000 acres and more ground and air crews have been brought in to help put it out.

Firefighters from the US Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, and Craven County fire departments are all on scene.

U.S. Forest Service officials said the Southern Red Area Team, which fights large wildfires in 13 southern states and two U.S. territories, will arrive on Sunday and on Monday they will begin work to extinguish the fire alongside those local and state agencies.

Officials say the fire was first noticed on Wednesday evening and at that time it was estimated to be around 50 acres; it grew slowly on Thursday but because of increasingly dry conditions and winds overnight and into Friday morning it swelled to 7,000 acres, then 12,000 and at last check 35,000.

The fire is about 10 percent contained, and primary and secondary containment lines are being established, with an emphasis on protecting private land to the north of the forest.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources in Raleigh NC has issued a Code Purple Air Quality Action Day for eastern North Carolina because of the smoke and ash in the air until midnight. They say those with health conditions impacting their breathing should avoid the outdoors in the smoky areas.

Winds are expected to continue through Saturday evening and forestry officials say communities north of the Croatan National Forest can expect to continue to be impacted by smoke. There is a chance of rain on Saturday and that could tamp down the fire in some areas.

Travelers on Highways 17 and 70 and other roads impacted by the fire are asked to use caution and watch for firefighters working in the area.

The cause of the Great Lake Fire has not yet been determined.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to