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Southern U.S. regional wildfire fighters join battle against Croatan National Forest blaze

Annette Weston-Riggs
PRE News & Ideas
The Great Lake fire is already bigger than the Last Resort fire in Tyrell County that sparked last month.

The Southern Area Red Team, a group of wildfire fighting experts that covers more than a dozen southeastern states and some U.S. territories, assumed operational command of the Great Lake Fire on Croatan National Forest Sunday evening.

The fire remains 36,000 acres in size and is 30% contained.

Officials say the half-inch of rainfall Saturday and mild weather Sunday gave firefighting crews a window to construct fire breaks.

Forest service officials say people driving on U.S. 17 and U.S. 70 in the area should use caution and expect smoke.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says Catfish Lake Road and County Line Road are closed because of the fire. The Black Lake OHV is also closed.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has Craven, Jones, Onslow, and Carteret counties under a Code Yellow Monday for air quality. The Forest Service says smoke is especially thick in the mornings and evenings.

There are currently no injuries and no structures threatened.

The cause of the Great Lakes Fire remains under investigation.

Wildfire in the Croatan National Forest

Previous coverage:

Wildfire in the Croatan: 7,000 acres burning, poor air quality halts after school activities

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

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