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Great Lake fire now 49% contained, crews flooding the forest floor to battle deep burning ground fire

(U.S. Forest Service map)

Firefighters on the Great Lake Fire in the Croatan National Forest started placing sandbags on Sunday as part of a flooding operation on the southeast side of the fire where it is burning deep into the ground.

Section Chief for the Southern Area Red Team Tim Dunfee said it’s the most effective way to extinguish these types of fires.

"To dam up the waterway that's coming out of Great Lake, which essentially increases the ground water enough that it will impact the hot burning debris,” he said, “And, with a little bit of help from firefighters on the ground, they'll be able to take care of that. It just takes a little while for that water level to rise.”

"Ground fire is a fire that's occurring in in the peat or in the organic soils, and it's extremely difficult to suppress using traditional firefighting methods – hose, aircraft, crews on the ground,”Dunfee added.

While the fire area has received consistent rainfall over the past few days, officials said it has not been enough to saturate the soil and put out the fire. It remains at 32,400 acres but is now 49 percent contained. More than 200 firefighters continue to work to put out the man-made fire, which remains under investigation.

The Great Lake Fire between Havelock and Maysville started on April 19, and on the 21st spread from about 7,000 acres to more than 30,000.

Catfish Lake Rd. remains closed, and Dunfee said that’s because the fire is more intense in that area.

“Catfish (Lake) Rd. actually leads to one of the more active parts of the fire; there's a significant amount of mop up occurring on both sides of Black Swamp Rd.”

With a perimeter around nearly half of the fire, the Southern Area Red Team will turn operational control over to the Southern Area Gray Team on Tuesday.

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