LAKE LURE, NC (WSPA) – The Party Rock Fire continues to burn Wednesday morning, causing new evacuations as crews prepare for weather that will make the job more difficult.
The North Carolina Forest Service reports the fire has grown to 4,480 acres – roughly seven square miles – and is 19 percent contained. Fire crews are focusing on preparing for strong winds later this week that could increase the size of the fire.
Henderson County Emergency Management and law enforcement officials will implement an evacuation of Highway 9 between the intersections of Highway 74-A and Shumont Road beginning at noon. The evacuation notice will include all roads that connect to Highway 9.
A 2.2-mile section of N.C. 9 between the intersection with U.S. 64/74A near Bat Cave and Shumont Road will be closed after the area is evacuated. Connecting roads that branch off the highway will also be closed, including Bat Cave Drive, Red Anderson Road, Rocky River Lane, Mount Tabor Way, Minihaha Drive, Old Fort Loop Road, Hemlock Falls Trail, and Shumont Road and its offshoots.
People forced to leave their homes can shelter at Grace Lutheran Church, 1245 6th Avenue West in Hendersonville. Residents of evacuated neighborhoods in the Boys Camp Road area were allowed to return to their homes on Tuesday.
A stretch of Highway 74-A leading into Chimney Rock Village from the north and south remains closed.
A community meeting is scheduled at noon Wednesday at the Rumbling Bald Resort’s Legends Restaurant. People attending the meeting will get an overview of the status of the fire and plans to control the smoke and flames.
Roads will remain closed to everyone except emergency personnel until the area is deemed safe for evacuees to return.
The N.C. Department of Transportation says the preferred detour is to
U.S. 74A West for 17 miles to Interstate 40 East. Follow the freeway for 29 miles to Exit 64, N.C. 9 South, which is open for 40 miles down to Shumont Road.
It is about 20 miles south of Waynesville, North Carolina, in the headwaters of Crawford Creek.
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