WNC wildfire update – November 25

A fire is pictured in McDowell County where sheriff's deputies have been searching for a suspected serial arsonist. (Credit: WNCN)

Here is the latest update on fires in Western North Carolina as of Friday morning:

Party Rock Fire – Rutherford Co. / Henderson Co.
Acreage: 7,171 – Containment: 70% – Personnel: 306 – Start Date: November 5
The Party Rock Fire is now 70% contained but small flames and smoke are still visible within the fire’s footprint, as lingering hot spots flare up. The crews are working diligently to find and extinguish any trouble spots that could threaten containment lines. Crews are also taking steps to make sure the bulldozer lines and hand lines don’t contribute to erosion if significant rain falls.

Rumbling Bald Climbing Access area is closed until further notice. The main attraction, Chimney Rock and Chimney Rock State Park Visitors Center, reopens to the public today. The Welcome Center at Lake Lure is also re-opening today.

Clear Creek Fire – McDowell Co.
Acreage: 2,623 – Containment: 30% – Personnel: 389 – Start Date: November 20
Fire crews continued to patrol and monitor the southern, eastern and northeastern perimeter of the fire near Clear Creek and Lake Tahoma Roads and extinguished any hot spots they found. Structure assessment and prep work continued in the Locust Cove area. Along the western and northwestern edge of the fire, crews continued to prep, install, and improve indirect fire lines. Helicopter bucket drops were successful in slowing the fire spread along the southwestern edge by delivering 50,000 to 60,000 gallons of water. Overnight, firefighters patrolled and monitored the fire along the southern, eastern and northern edges of the fire.

Firefighters working on the southwest and western areas of the fire will continue to construct and improve indirect fire line utilizing dozers and hand crews. Along the northwestern portion of the fire including near Locust Cove, crews will continue to improve fire line in preparation for firing operations as needed. Structure protection work will continue in the Clear Creek Road, NC Hwy 80 and Locust Cove areas. Several aviation resources are available and will assist firefighters as visibility allows in holding the fire lines and slowing fire spread with bucket drops. Night operations are scheduled again for this evening.

Boteler Fire – Clay Co.
Acreage: 9,036- Containment: 77% – Personnel: 171 – Start Date: October 25
The Boteler Fire remains within present control lines. Firefighters continue patrolling and monitoring the existing firelines.

Maple Springs Fire – Graham Co.
Acreage: 7,788 – Containment: 71% – Personnel: 185 – Start Date: November 4
Firefighters will continue monitoring hot spots and completing suppression repair.
The U.S. Forest Service closure order is still in effect for the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and roads leading into the area.

Hwy. 151 Fire – Buncombe Co.
Acreage: ~200 – Start Date: November 24
The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed from mile marker 402 to 408 due to smoke impacts. Burnout operations took place yesterday and last night; the fire perimeter is entirely on USFS land. Houses in the area are secure from fire threats at this time. The USFS will have a hand crew and other resources on the fire to secure the lines and mop up, NCFS will check in as needed to lend assistance if needed.

Camp Branch Fire – Macon Co.
Acreage: 1363 – Containment: 20% – Personnel: 90 – Start Date: November 23
Wayah Road from the interchange with U.S. 64 west of Franklin, is closed to through traffic.

Firefighters are providing structure protection for cabins in the Bear Cove area. Backing and flanking fire will continue with uphill runs as slope and fuels align. Spotting from rollouts and burning snags will continue the threat. Firefighters will continue containment and suppression operations.

Pinnacle Mountain Fire – Transylvania Co. / Pickens Co.
Acreage: 8,903- Containment: 40% – Personnel: 258 – Start Date: November 9
Although firefighters made progress on the north side of the Pinnacle Mountain Fire yesterday, the test fire that was conducted showed that conditions were not favorable for an effective burnout. Light winds and moderate humidity levels should aid crews today as they reinforce firelines throughout this burnout operation which could encompass as much as 500 acres. Crews hope to burn away from containment lines in the Slicking Gap area which is near the NC/SC state line. Yesterday, firefighters constructed a dozer line from the state line to within about 100 yards of the Saluda River. Plans are to complete this line today, which will help reduce the chance of the fire spreading to the west. The fire south of Saluda River is nearing full containment. Crews will continue to monitor and mop up any hot spots.

Closures: Table Rock State Park and the trail system remain closed. Table Rock State Park is expected to reopen in stages once State Park and Forestry Commission officials deem conditions are safe for the public. The Table Rock trail system will remain closed until a damage assessment can be made, hazards cleared and repairs made. Additional information about the park and fire status is available at the Table Rock Visitor Center off Highway 11.

Structure protection teams are staged in high risk areas holding line, evaluating homes for risk and mitigating risks where possible. Structures threatened are in Pickens Co. (112), Greenville Co. (523), and Transylvania Co., NC (171) Populations effected are Pickens Co. (122), Greenville Co. (187) and Transylvania Co. (132)

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