In Beaufort, the first sign that something was amiss occurred on Sunday night. The air became thick with haze and smelled like of burning mulch. At first we thought it was just an overzealous barbecue somewhere down the road, but as we drove over the Morehead City highrise bridge, we discovered that the smoke was everywhere. This wasn’t an isolated grilling accident, trash burn, or house on fire, some thing was burning, something big. It could only be a forest fire, and, judging by the direction of the wind, it was blowing in from somewhere near the Outer Banks.