UPDATED: Brush fire on Pea Island near refuge visitor center extinguished

Tami Lamz took this photo as she drove by a wildfire in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 11, 2020.

A wind-fueled brush fire ignited Saturday night in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the oceanside of N.C. 12 near the refuge visitor center.

Crews reported they had the fire knocked down at 7:08 p.m., and the blaze was out at 8:23 p.m.

The highway was closed to traffic in both directions until 7:30 p.m. when one lane reopened to alternating traffic.

Heads up if you’re driving NC 12 through #PeaIslandRefuge. A roadside fire has been reported midway on the refuge on the Oceanside of the highway. At the time of the report, the wind was “whipping” causing fire spread. Refuge firefighters are on the way, but remember there are no structures on the east side of the highway. We don’t anticipate problems ; it’s a good distance north of Rodanthe. We appreciate the prompt and professional response from our partners at the Rodanthe Volunteer Fire Department and the NC Forest Service, as well as Refuge firefighters!

Posted by USFWS in North Carolina on Saturday, January 11, 2020

Tami Lamz, an eyewitness who drove by just as firefighters were arriving on scene, said it appeared the fire had spread from near the edge of the pavement up to the dune line.

It was burning about 1/4 mile south of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, in an area with no structures roughly seven miles north of the village of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island.

Sustained south winds of 20 mph, with gusts near 30, fanned the flames. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]