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A gargantuan wildfire that has gobbled 40,000 acres of eastern North Carolina’s Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge, threatening wildlife like these turtles and sending smoke as far west as Burlington, has also attracted hundreds of firefighters and other support personnel.

Firefighters have to eat, drink, shower, sleep, and wash their clothes. Given the extreme heat that North Carolina has experienced for the past week, they need all the help they can get.

Enter North Carolina Baptist Men volunteers, who have answered a call from N.C. Emergency Management by setting up three shower units, three sleeper units, a laundry unit, a command unit, three generator units, a water tanker unit, and a feeding team.

The feeding team has set up shop in the Mattamuskeet School kitchen, serving its first meals as early as this past Sunday, according to NCMB executive director Richard Brunson.

Brunson reports that, in addition to providing the equipment, a number of NCBM volunteers are assisting with the effort. In addition to kitchen volunteers, several persons are needed to maintain each unit, keep the shower units clean and stocked, wash and dry laundry, and so forth.

The fire, described as the largest current wildfire in the country, is reportedly about 40 percent contained. Because large parts of the area are covered with deep layers of decayed vegetation, officials say the fire could smolder for months.

(Photo taken March 2007 near Columbia, on the northern border of the refuge.)

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