Massive Wildfire Burning in Croatan National Forest

At least 36,000 acres have been charred by the fire, which is only 15% contained as of 6:30 PM Saturday.

6:30 PM SATURDAY UPDATE: According to the US Forest Service, the Great Lake Fire in Craven County has now burned over 36,000 acres and is 15% contained.

HAVELOCK, N.C. — It’s a scene that’s become all-too-familiar this spring in eastern North Carolina. A massive wildfire is spewing smoke and flames inside the Croatan National Forest near Havelock. Since the fire is located on federal land, the US Forest Service (USFS) is on the case.

“This morning, we had 50 firefighters, we have a lot more coming in,” says Lia Parker, an official with the USFS.

“We’ve got crews that are definitely going to be there throughout the night working on it.”

This is the second major wildfire to impact North Carolina’s coastal plain in under a month. The Last Resort Fire, which burned over 5,000 acres after sparking in late March, was only 100% contained as of last week. The Great Lake Fire, named after the body of water it started by, has already ignited over 35,000 acres in just under 36 hours.

“They’re going to be working hand-line. We’ve got dozers out there, and we’ve got emergency personnel. So, we’re really hitting this as hard as we can, just giving it our all,” adds Parker.

The good news? Mother Nature will lend a helping hand on Saturday as a powerful cold front pushes in from the west. Scattered showers and storms will hopefully dampen the fire’s prospects through the first half of the weekend. However, the winds will be something firefighters will be watching closely.

“The winds are always a challenge,” quipped Parker. “The winds, when they do come in, can be helpful if it’s a reversal wind, which means forcing the fire back on itself. But, we do know that winds will change throughout the day, so we’re anticipating that and we are working very closely with the National Weather Service.”

The cause of the fire is unknown and is currently under investigation.