Smoke from Dismal Swamp fire invades area

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

Franklin and Southampton residents again awoke to the smell of smoke from a forest fire Thursday morning, but this time the source is not a blaze in Hyde County, N.C. Instead, the smoke is coming from the Great Dismal Swamp on the Suffolk-Chesapeake line.

A fire started late Monday when a timber contractor’s machinery caught fire.

The fire damaged about 30 acres initially, but wind shifts Tuesday afternoon helped fan the flames to the south, covering about 1,000 acres by Wednesday afternoon.

Winds from the north and northeast pushed the smoke over the Franklin/Southampton region by Thursday morning.

Officials with Franklin Fire & Rescue said that no calls had been received received regarding the Dismal Swamp fire. Several calls were received last week when smoke from the blaze in Hyde County could be smelled here.

The fire in the Great Dismal Swamp continues to burn.

&uot;This is the largest fire the refuge has ever seen,&uot; said refuge manager Chris Lowie. &uot;It’s devastating.&uot;

Many of the trees in a stand of Atlantic white cedar saplings in the heart of the refuge are destroyed, Lowie said. The trees were the early fruits of success from the refuge’s Atlantic white cedar regeneration project that began in 2005 after Hurricane Isabel destroyed about 3,600 acres of the cedar trees indigenous to the Great Dismal. Lowie said he hopes they will be able to reseed naturally.