NEW BERN, N.C. – Cloud cover and mild weather have benefited hundreds of firefighters who are continuing their work to contain and extinguish a massive wildfire that broke out last week in North Carolina near Great Lake in Croatan National Forest.
In their nightly update, officials said the Great Lakes Fire has so far scorched 32,400 acres of land and is still only 30% contained.
The size of the fire has been lowered, however, down from 36,000 acres, after officials said more accurate acreage data was obtained based on flight reconnaissance.
When the fire first began, more than 20 North Carolina counties were under air quality alerts due to the smoke and ash that were blanketing nearby communities.
Those were allowed to expire over the weekend, but officials warn smoke could continue to linger in the area, especially during the morning and evening hours.
Nearly 250 firefighters have been busy working to create fire lines around the blaze, including reinforcing those on the west and northwestern sides of the fire between the Weyerhaeuser timber lands and U.S. Forest Service property, according to officials.
A temporary flight restriction remains in place over the fire area. Officials say anyone traveling on highways near the Great Lakes Fire should continue to proceed with caution as crews work in the area.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.