LAKE LURE, N.C. (WSPA) -It has been one year since the Party Rock Fire roared through the mountains of Western North Carolina. The fire forced people to evacuate and burned for three weeks.
Patrick Bryant, a hotel ambassador for the Lake Lure Inn and Spa, says the images from the fire are still burned in his memory.
“The smoke would settle in to the valley, and the mountain would disappear. You could smell it in the air, and it was always around you, and at night it would glow this dark, fiery red,” Bryant says.
For nearly the entire month of November 2016, the Party Rock Fire burned, destroying more than 7,000 acres of land, and forcing people from their homes.
Bryant was forced to evacuate, but still helped run the operations at the Lake Lure Inn and Spa, which housed evacuees and firefighters.
Chief Ronald Morgan with the Lake Lure Fire Department has re-visited some of the trails, and says you can still see some remnants from the fire.
“This was not a fire that you anticipate in your career. We never thought we’d have 24 different states represented,” Chief Morgan says.
As you walk the trails, aside from the occasional charred tree, the landscape is as picturesque as ever.
“The leaves are just as beautiful as we wanted them to be this year, the ground has re-saturated and taken in these nutrients. From the burning of a fire comes new life,” Bryant says.
Officials with the North Carolina Forest Services say the fire was caused by a cigarette. State officials say the cost of the fire was nearly $7 million.