USA — Hurricane Irene dumped plenty of rain on the Dismal Swamp wildfire – but not enough to put it out.
Fire officials took to the air Sunday afternoon to assess conditions. They spotted at least 30 areas where smoke was still billowing from the 6,000-plus-acre fire, which is not unusual, said John Bearer, a spokesman for the Southern Area Type 2 Incident Team, in charge of the fire.
But there was good news to come out of Irene, too.
No visible flames were spotted, and the fire – which was considered 35 percent contained on Friday before the storm – did not appear to have spread, Bearer said.
Also, between 10 and 15 inches of rain from the hurricane were recorded at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, he said.
“We have puddles all over the place,” Bearer said. “There’s time to get water into that soil.”
He likened it to water hitting a sponge. For the rain to help, it needs to soak into the deep organic peat, where the fire has been smoldering.
Fire officials were planning to re-enter the refuge today, but their first order of business will be to clear roads and ensure that it’s safe to return.