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State of Emergency Declared in 29 North Carolina Counties

Posted by feww on June 26, 2011

N.C. Gov. declares a state of emergency in 29 counties due to drought conditions, wildfires

Several major fires are raging in Pender, Dare, Brunswick, New Hanover, Columbus, Onslow and Bladen counties.

The fires, covering about 80,000 acres, were started by lightning and have been burning for more than a week.


North Carolina Map of below normal 7-day average streamflow. Source: USGS. Click images to enlarge

State of Emergency Declaration

Gov. Beverly Perdue signed the declaration “due to the extreme fire hazard created by dry conditions and the current wildfires/forest fires in several of these counties.”

Perdue said in a statement:

“I want to assure residents of North Carolina that the state Division of Forest Resources and its partnering agencies are working hard to contain the fires in Eastern North Carolina. They will continue to focus on the top priorities of protecting lives and property nearest the fires.”

Details of property damage and evacuation orders were not known as of posting. However, many communities across the region have been alerted for possible evacuation.

Up to 15 counties are currently under an air quality alert due to particulate matter (PM-2.5) traveling in the wind.

Code Purple Alert

The N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources has issued a Code Purple alert (“very unhealthy”)  for coastal communities due to the smoke from the blazes this weekend.

“Some of the highest particle pollution levels that [the state Division of Air Quality] has ever measured were in smoke plumes from wildfires … Fine particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing or aggravating heart and lung diseases.” The agency said in a statement.

NOTE: EPA seems to have two Code Purple Alerts!!

The First Code Purple refers to “very unhealthy” air quality, or AQI of 201 to 300.

The Second Code Purple seems to refer to “hazardous” air quality, or AQI of 301 to 500.


AQI color chart – air pollution hazard by EPA. Click to enlarge.

AQI Ratings

  • An AQI of 100 for ozone corresponds to an ozone level of 0.075 parts per million (averaged over 8 hours) [EPA data.]
  • An AQI of 100 for carbon monoxide corresponds to a level of 9 parts per million (averaged over 8 hours) [EPA data.]
  • An AQI of 100 for sulfur dioxide corresponds to a level of 0.14 parts per million (averaged over 24 hours) [EPA data.]
  • An AQI of 300 for PM-2.5 corresponds to a level of 250 micrograms of the particulate per cubic meter (averaged over 24 hours) [FIRE-EARTH calc.]

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