WNC wildfire update 11/21

Muskrat Valley Fire Wildfire
Released: 1:47 hrs. ago

Interactive Wildfire Map
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Incident Resources
13 crews, 56 engines, 6 helicopters, 8 dozers, 1 water tenders, 723 total personnel, 25,109 total acres
Incident Summary:
The Southern Area Blue Type 1 Incident Management assumed command of the Boteler Fire and the Nantahala Branch Fires this morning.

Boteler Fire (Clay County):
Due to continued leaf fall and gusty winds, firefighters will continue to monitor hotspots and strengthen the fireline in the area of Vineyard Road. In the northeast corner of the fire, firefighters continue to strengthen firelines in steep terrain off Thunderstruck Road near Tate Gap. Interior areas of the fire continue to reburn due to leaf fall. Today, firefighters will continue to monitor and respond to any threats to the containment line. Leaf fall continues to challenge containment efforts by covering firelines, causing reburn. Planned actions include patrolling and monitoring existing fire lines. Hotspots detected by infrared flights east of East Vineyard will be closely monitored. Firefighters are prepared to respond to any new fires in the area.
Size: 9,039 acres Containment: 77 percent Start Date: October 25

Tellico Fire (Swain and Macon Counties)

Yesterday’s red-flag fire-weather warning put firefighters on high alert. Infrared flight data revealed isolated areas of heat along the north and south perimeter of the fire. Seasonal leaf fall continues to blanket the area with dried leaves. This fuel bed had the potential for active fire behavior, but that did not occur. Only minimal creeping and smoldering fire behavior was observed. No structures are imminently threated, but the proximity of the fireline to residential areas makes monitoring and patrolling a high priority. Firefighters will strengthen containment lines and work to ensure the fire does not escape its boundaries.
Size: 13,874 acres Containment: 91 percent Start Date: November 3

Cathy Gap Fire (Jackson County)
Despite higher winds and very low relative humidity, only moderate creeping and smoldering fire behavior was observed on Sunday. A warming trend is predicted for the coming days. Forecasters are calling for temperatures in the 50s on Monday, and into the 60s on Tuesday. Higher temperatures combined with low relative humidity have the potential to encourage more active fire behavior. Seasonal leaf fall continues to be a concern due to reburn potential. Large volumes of dried leaves are falling into the fire area and onto containment lines. The Cathy Gap Fire is being managed using a combination of point protection, indirect and direct control lines, and containment strategies based on the values and principals of the Forest Service “Life First” policy. Using Life First principals, tactical decisions are evaluated on the probability of success and best risk management policies, putting the safety of firefighters first.
Size: 123 acres Containment: 90 percent Start Date: November 17

Dick’s Creek Fire
The most recent infrared flight detected two isolated hot spots in the interior of the fire. Seasonal leaf fall continues to blanket the area with dry leaves, which build into a continuous fuel bed and periodically reburn. Firefighters are patrolling containment lines and clearing them of leaf litter that could potentially provide a fuel bridge for the fire to escape containment. No additional fire growth is anticipated.
Size: 729 acres Containment: 99 percent Start Date: October 11

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WEATHER

As the cold front moves out of the region, temperatures are predicted to begin gradually warming. Afternoon temperatures could reach the upper 50s today and possibly into the 60s on Tuesday. Relative humidity (RH) will remain extremely low. RH values in the 20s to mid 30s are predicted. There is no rainfall in the forecast Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.

Fires in Patrol Status

The following fires are being patrolled daily to ensure containment lines are holding: Buck Creek Fire (6 ac.), Falls Fire (NA), Grape Cove Fire (11 ac.), Moses Creek Fire (30 ac.), Jones Gap Fire (8 ac.), Jarrett Knob Fire (NA), Wine Spring Fire (93 ac.), Mulberry Fire (1 ac.), Moss Knob Fire (7 ac.), May Branch Fire (175 ac.), Boardtree Fire (0.5 ac.), Charley Creek Fire (6 ac.), Nick (0.2 ac.), Ridge Gap (1 ac.), Ferebee (now Tellico), Falls (NA), Cliffside Fire (110 ac.), Whitewater Fire (23 ac.), Howard Gap (0.2 ac.), Knob (1,130 ac.), Muskrat (104 ac.), Bullpen (6 ac.).

Road and Trail Closure Status
Swain County
· Only residents are allowed on the following roads: Big Dog, Gassaway, Licklog, Long Branch, Luther Bingham, Mason, Morgan, Northern Partridge, Silver Mine, East Silver Ridge, Wesser Creek, Wilkes.

Macon County

· Forest Service Road 712, Board Tree Road, and Jones Gap Road near the Muskrat Fire are open.
· Only residents are allowed on the following roads: Deweese and Partridge Creek.

Nantahala National Forest
· An area closure order (No. 08-11-09-17-02) for the Tusquitee Ranger District is in effect for lands, trails, and roads in the area surrounding the Boteler Fire. To view a map and complete list of closed roads and trails, go to tinyurl.com/zoq4lm8.
· An area closure order (No. 08-11-00-17-03) for the Tusquitee and Nantahala Rangers Districts is in effect for lands, trails, and roads southeast of the Boteler Fire. The closed area extends south from Highway 64 to the Georgia border and includes the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. The Appalachian Trail is closed from the Nantahala Outdoor Center south to the Georgia border. To view a map and complete list of closed roads and trails, go to tinyurl.com/jmxv7dv.
· These trails are also closed: Wesser Creek, Whitewater Falls, Foothills from NC Hwy 281 to the Bad Creek access, Bartram Trail from Wine Spring Bald west to Nantahala Lake, and Bartram Trail from the trailhead at NC 106 north and west to NC 1643 (Hickory Knoll Road).

Burning Restrictions
· Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests total fire ban: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd524246
· NC Forest Service open-burning ban: ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2016.htm# 1107161

Joint Information Center (JIC)
A JIC in Asheville is distributing information about all Western North Carolina wildfires. Email ncjicinformation @gmail.com, call 828-575-2840 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), or go to http://ncjic.blogspot.com
The Rock Mountain Fire near Tate City, Georgia, was active yesterday. Smoke from the fire may be visible in our area. The Rock Mountain Fire is being managed by the Pacific Northwest 3 (PNW3) Incident Management Team. For information on the Rock Mountain Fire, call 470-208-2866, or go to inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5100/.

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