Officials at Cape Hatteras National Seashore say they have determined the fire that burned more than five acres of the national park in Frisco, N.C., on Friday afternoon “was not caused naturally.”
National Park officials said Tuesday in a Facebook post that they have also “ruled out the possibility that the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette.”
The post stopped short of calling the incident a case of arson.
The fire was discovered at 4:26 p.m. Friday, and burned 5.18 acres of park land, destroying vegetation on the dunes north of Ramp 48, near Inside Road, officials said Tuesday. Park rangers were helped by volunteer firefighters from Buxton and Frisco in putting out the blaze, park officials said in a Friday press release.
“If visitors had not reported the wildfire after observing it, there is a chance that it could have spread to the village of Frisco and caused harm to life and damage to property,” said the park’s Tuesday update.
“According to anonymous tips, just before the fire was observed, a sport utility vehicle was seen traveling north on Inside Road.”
The National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch is handling the investigation, officials said.
High winds have been reported along the North Carolina cost in the past two days, leading to the cancellation of ferry travel at nearby Cape Lookout National Seashore on Friday.
Anyone with information about the fire can contact the park service at 888-653-0009 or online, according to a news release.