Rain helps, but U.S. 17 remains closed by smoke

Rain helps, but U.S. 17 remains closed by smoke

15 February 2008

published by http://hamptonroads.com


USA — Part of U.S. 17 remained closed late Wednesday as smoke from ground fires hindered visibility and crews cleared trees along the roadside north of South Mills.

Rain on Tuesday night and Wednesday helped firefighters contain a wildfire in Camden County that burned 2,300 acres of brush and woodland, said Bill Swartley, spokesman for the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources.

Smoke from an underground peat fire reduced visibility on the highway and undermined trees near power lines, Swartley said.

“The roots burn out and the trees fall over,” Swartley said.

On Wednesday, crews began removing a line of trees along U.S. 17 north of the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center.

Strong winds Sunday blew a tree onto power lines near U.S. 17, sparking the fire that was swept eastward by gusts of up to 60 mph.

Dozens of firefighters responded from other parts of the state to help fight the blaze. Bulldozers worked day and night to create a fire break, and an airplane scooped water from the Currituck Sound to dump onto the flames.

The Camden fire was the largest of about 25 that broke out early this week in several counties in northeastern North Carolina.

Enveloped by smoke from the wildfire, U.S. 17 was closed Tuesday near the state line after a five-car pileup. The highway will be closed today, Swartley said, and it was not yet known when it would reopen.


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