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Irene Buys Time for Fire Fighters in Dismal Swamp

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A fiery tornado rages off Corapeake Road in the Lateral West Wildfire on Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Aug. 15.
Greg Sanders, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsnortheast/6044721273)
A fiery tornado rages off Corapeake Road in the Lateral West Wildfire on Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Aug. 15.

Hurricane Irene may have accomplished something positive by helping douse a fire that has been burning in Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp since Aug. 4.

A massive wildfire has been burning in southeastern Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp wildlife refuge, sending giant plumes of smoke into the air.

It's burned about 6,000 acres and what is notable about this fire is that it's smoldering underground, burning through drought-dried peat moss 4 to 5 feet below the surface. Irene, when it was a Hurricane, dumped 10 to 15 inches of rain on the fire.

Fire officials don't believe the rain would have extinguished the fire, but the water will buy them time in their two week long effort to contain it. Firefighters are expected back in the Swamp by Tuesday.

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