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