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Brush fire in Pea Island NWR flared Saturday night

At 6:32 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, an emergency call went out for Chicamacomico Banks volunteer firefighters for a brush fire in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The oceanside fire just south of the refuge visitor center was growing significantly, moving north pushed by south winds, and encroaching on NC 12 when Chicamacomico Banks Deputy Chief Clyde Thompson arrived at the scene.

Two Chicamacomico Banks engines – one from the Rodanthe station and another from the Salvo station – responded with ten fire firefighters. On this weekend, frontline fire trucks and seven firefighters from Chicamacomico Banks were attending classes in Wilmington.

Avon volunteer firefighters were paged out to cover Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo. Avon responders were released about 30 minutes later.

Because of the fire’s proximity to NC 12, the highway was closed to protect firefighters and equipment. Initially, an engine and a car with emergency lights were positioned to stop traffic in both directions.

Dare County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived to take over traffic control and opened one traffic lane.

Firefighters initially attacked the north end of the fire and stopped the advance and kept moving south.

North Carolina Forestry Service firefighters Kerry Simmons and John Cook arrived with a brush truck and attacked the fire from the south with hand tools. Volunteer firefighters continued to move southward and met up with forestry service firefighters.

Local volunteers returned to the station two hours after the call. The crew finished the call around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night by filling trucks with water, cleaning equipment and putting the equipment back in service. At Monday night training, volunteers cleaned hose used during the brush fire.

The fire covered 2.5 acres. Fire manager for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges Bert Plante determined that smoking materials may be the cause of the fire. Three service firefighters also responded to the blaze with two tracked marsh masters, which were not used.

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