September 9, 2008

Did Hanna Douse the Wildfires? Time Will Tell


By Kristin Davis and Catherine Kozak

The Virginian-Pilot

Tropical Storm Hanna dumped some needed rain on the two fires that have smoldered in the region for months, but officials are not ready to say the fires are out just yet.

Chris Lowie, the manager of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, said the storm dumped about 1.5 inches of rain on the fire that has burned some 5,000 acres there since early June. It wasn't enough to penetrate some places thick with trees and brush, however. Officials at the refuge had hoped a major storm would put out the fire, which so far has cost nearly $10.7 million.

"It helped a little," Lowie said. "We don't figure it put the fire out."

Lowie said he would know more later this week after a plane flies over the refuge.

All the firefighters who were brought in to battle the blaze - more than 400 at the fire's peak - have left, Lowie said. At least t wo refuge employees are now running the pumps to control the fire.

The investigation into the blaze is ongoing, Lowie said. It reportedly began June 9 when logging equipment caught fire.

Officials say much the same for the Evans Road fire at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. The fire is contained, but officials are not quite ready to declare that it is out.

Phillips said that a flyover done several days before Tropical Storm Hanna revealed no hot spots. If a second flight shows the same result , then the blaze can be considered extinguished. The next aerial flight has yet to be scheduled, Phillips said.

The wildfire, i gnited by lightning on June 1, has burned more than 40,000 acres of land in and around the refuge.

Kristin Davis, (757) 222-5208,

[email protected]

Originally published by BY KRISTIN DAVIS.

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