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Wildfires Smoke Prompts Warning

By Peter Biello

Wilmington, NC – A wildfire burning in Eastern North Carolina's Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has prompted the state to issue its most severe air pollution warning ever.

Smoke from the fire has drifted west as far away as Raleigh. The severe air pollution warning has advised the elderly, children and those with breathing problems to avoid outdoor activities.

The wildfire began June 1st and has already burned 41,000 acres.

Spokesperson with the North Carolina Forest Service Laura Prevette says it's burning so strongly because the ground in the refuge is made of highly combustible peat.

"The problem is this peat can go two inches or it can go six, eight feet deep. So if you can picture 41-thousand acres that are burning two or three feet deep in some areas. That's what were trying to work to help put some of that out if we can. "

She also says the fire will continue to burn until heavy or tropical-storm level rains fall on it. Officials are holding public meetings this afternoon and this evening to update people living and working near the wildfire.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@whqr.org.