PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Waking up this morning you may have smelled or seen smoke where you live. As winds in the Cape Fear region shifted, smoke from the Pender County fires is pushing southward affecting residents down the coast and across the state line.
Off I-40 in Pender County this morning drivers saw extreme fog. Officials say it’s a mixture of fog and smoke from the Juniper Road Fire.
“The smoke, the particulate matter, combines with the fog elements, and it does cause very thick what sometimes is referred to as super fog,” NC Forest Service Information Officer Bruce MacDonald said.
These conditions stretched from Pender County into New Hanover County and as far away as Tabor City and even Myrtle Beach. North winds are the reason the effects of the fire are now on Wilmington’s doorstep.
“It could be an endangerment to drivers out here on the highway and plus people with breathing problems and everything,” New Hanover County resident Norman Johnson said.
“It got pretty dense this morning, and it was kind of hard to breathe at one moment,” said Michael Malloy of Pender County.
Thursday morning many people called the New Hanover County 911 Center concerned about the smoke. Pediatrician David Hill says some people do need to worry.
“There are a lot of vunerable populations in our area,” Dr. Hill said. “Children and adults that have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart disease are all at risk for worsening disease when we face smokey conditions like these.”
This may be the first time that most New Hanover County residents have gotten a whiff of the fire, but firefighters have the best containment of the flames they have had in weeks.
“At this time it’s held within this perimeter for a couple of days, and what growth we’ve had in the past couple of days has been due to the burnouts that we have planned, and that went well and achieved our results,” MacDonald said. “So it’s holding well for now.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the fire is more than 30,000 acres and 68 percent contained. That means despite the smoke you may see, the Juniper Road Fire is becoming less of a hazard. Crews have the fire contained enough that they are starting to pull resources away from it.