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iStock/Thinkstock(OKRACOKE ISLAND, N.C.) -- A 68-year-old man was airlifted to a hospital after he was attacked by a six- to seven-foot shark Wednesday off the coast of Okracoke Island in North Carolina, Hyde County and National Park Service officials said.

The victim was bitten on his left side in his lower leg and hip and on both his hands around 12:13 p.m., Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs told ABC News. He added that the victim was conscious when he got into the helicopter, where he gave a description of the attack that allowed officials to confirm he was bitten by a shark.

The man, whose name has not been released, was en route to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, Gibbs said.

"He had been swimming in about 25-30 feet offshore in about waist-deep water with his adult son," the National Park Service said in a statement. "There were no other swimmers injured."

The attack is the seventh shark attack off the North Carolina coast since June, including one in Avon Beach last Friday when a 47-year-old man punched the shark that bit his right leg and lower back.

The alarming number of attacks in North Carolina "is an extremely dangerous situation right now," said George Burgess, who directs the Florida Program for Shark Research at Florida International University.

"There is clearly a continuing threat situation here," he told ABC News.

Burgess, along with some law enforcement officials along the coast, are calling for many of the waterfront communities to consider closing the beaches. Burgess added that considering the trend the past couple of weeks, it's almost a given there will be more victims this Fourth of July weekend.

There are many inherent dangers while swimming in ocean or sound waters. Swimmers are advised to be aware of conditions and their surroundings.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

AK_Forestry/Twitter(JUNEAU, Alaska) -- The number of Alaska's active wildfires is literally off the charts, according to a map recently released by the state's Division of Forestry.

Over 700 fires have burned so far this summer, the most in the state's history, and that number is only expected to get bigger as the state is experiencing higher temperatures, lower humidity and more lightning storms than usual, said Kale Casey, a public information officer for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, which serves as a focal point for state agencies involved in wildland fire management and suppression.

"Exactly around 1.88 million acres of land have been burned so far, which is at pace with the 2004 season when 6.59 million acres burned," Casey told ABC News Wednesday. "In addition to the dry season we're having, we've had a huge amount of lightning -- about 6,000 to 10,000 bolts per day. There was three-day period in June where we had over 31,000 lightning strikes."

The state's most devastating fire destroyed 55 homes and left 44 other buildings with major damage in Sockeye, Alaska, two weeks ago, Casey said.

The fire not only received attention for its colossal size but also for burning down eight to nine sled dog racers' houses, Casey said.

"The fire in Sockeye affected a community containing the largest concentration of mushers, including some Iditarod muhshers," he said. "That area is like Mecca for sled dog racers."

Though data sets show that fires seem to be on the rise in recent years, Casey said this may result from incomplete data in previous decades when it was harder to record fire histories without the technology available today. He added that though Alaska is the busiest region battling fires in the United States this year, it had a lot of moisture last year, making for a very short fire season.

"We've had really dry and really wet seasons in the past," he said. "It just goes to show you never know what you're going to get."

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Parts of the west will be sizzling while others will be dodging storms this July 4th weekend.

For most of the Midwest and Northeast, the weather is shaping up pretty nicely. Anywhere from Minneapolis and Chicago to New York and Boston can expect a good amount of sunshine with mild to warm temperatures for much of the weekend. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are on tap for the center of the country, stretching from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, parts of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Ohio and Tennessee Valleys should be on the lookout for pop-up thunderstorms, especially during the afternoon hours. It won't be a washout, but some of these storms could put a damper on outdoor activities like cookouts and firework displays.

No surprise for July, the southeast will be hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s inland and mid to upper 80s along the beaches.

The Northern Plains should stay mostly dry, but the Central Plains to Rockies and desert Southwest will be in the path for scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly in the afternoon hours. Again, these will be hit or miss. Dry lightning could also occur with some of these storms -- meaning lightning with little to no rain.

Out West, it will continue to bake, especially in the Pacific Northwest. The region has been dealing with a record-breaking heat wave since last weekend.

Washington State, Oregon and Montana have seen some of the highest June temperatures on record soaring into the 100s and even 110s. Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho have had their hottest June on record. In Las Vegas, it's the longest stretch ever with temperatures of 105 degrees or higher.

With no relief in sight, temperatures remain in the 90s and 100s with slightly cooler temperatures along the coast.

As a warning, people participating in firework displays out West will need to be extra cautious due to the dry conditions, wildfire threat and ongoing drought.

The good news is there are no major storm systems affecting any particular part of the country. But whether you are battling the heat out West or the scattered storms in the East, always stay updated on your local weather to be safe outdoors this holiday weekend.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Andy Wolfe/Released(NEW YORK) -- The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive Wednesday, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”

The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace. Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting -- whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its sights or trying to evade the F-16’s mock weapons.

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the test pilot reportedly wrote. “There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.”

Wednesday morning, the Pentagon’s F-35 Program Office did what the actual $138 million jet apparently couldn't: fight back.

In an email to reporters, Joe DellaVedova, a spokesperson for the F-35 office, attempted to provide context in defense of the fighter jets. First, DellaVedova wrote, the F-35 in the demonstration was only designed for “flight sciences” and was “not equipped with a number of items” that the jets currently coming off the production line have. For instance, it didn’t have the sensors that “allow the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area.”

He said that the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 didn’t have the stealth coating that regular F-35s have, making them “virtually invisible to radar,” and the test jet wasn’t equipped with “the weapons or software that allow the F-35 to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.” (According to War Is Boring, the test pilot complained the size of the helmet made it too hard to see behind the plane.)

But none of DellaVedova’s comments directly address the central claim in the War Is Boring report -- that the plane isn’t good at maneuvering in close-up dogfighting -- likely because DellaVedova said it isn’t really designed to be.

“The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations,” he said.

The F-35 is also primarily designed to attack targets on the ground. It’s the duty of the F-35’s next-generation counterpart, the F-22 Raptor -- which had its own share of dogfighting difficulties -- to take on other fighter jets in the air.

Still, DellaVedova said in a follow-up email to ABC News that the test pilot’s report is “the beginning of what engineers and software designers may need to address in the future.”

“As the F-35 is still in the midst of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, much work is on-going to improve the capabilities and deliver them to the warfighter,” DellaVedova said. “The F-35 of today is not what the F-35 will be in the coming years.”

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in history, with each jet costing around $138 million and the entire program running up to $339 billion -- well over an estimated $1 trillion in operational costs over the next 50 years. It’s also woefully behind schedule; the first planes were supposed to have gone operational three years ago.

Despite DellaVedova’s comment about intense testing still being done, the Marine Corps, one of the F-35’s customers, expects to field its first aircraft this summer.

ABC News requested additional context about the F-35’s dogfighting capabilities in the form of the For Official Use Only (FOUO) report on which the War Is Boring report was based. DellaVedova declined.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Patrick Thornton was at the beach with his family, swimming in the water, when he felt a tug at his foot.

That tug happened to be a 5-foot shark.

The 47-year-old was attacked Friday in the shallow waters of Avon Beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, one of six shark attacks on North Carolina beaches in June. The Charlotte, North Carolina, resident fought back.

“It took a pretty big chunk out of my right leg, so I started punching the shark, and then it grabbed my back and must have bit me in the back,” Thornton said.

Thornton managed to get the shark off of him. His niece and nephew, located nearby, made it to shore. But his son Jack stayed in the water, paralyzed with fear.

“I ran over and grabbed Jack, and as I was bringing him to the shore, the shark came and bit me again in the back, and this time he bit me really, really hard,” Thornton said.

Thornton says he punched the shark again. Finally, it swam off.

Once onshore, Thornton was rushed to the hospital, suffering wounds to his right leg and deep punctures in his back.

If a shark attacks, experts say, you should use whatever you can to fight back.

Thornton is now home and recovering. He says it might be a little while before he visits the beach again.

“I will probably spend more time in the mountains,” he said.

ABC US News | World News

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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