1000 x 90

40-Acre Linville Gorge Fire Threatens Camp Area, High Country has ‘Pretty Critical Fire Conditions Right Now’

Update: See most recent update – as of Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. – of the fire growing to 100 acres in size here: ‘Table Rock Fire’ in Linville Gorge Wilderness Area Spreads to 100 Acres, Zero Percent Contained, Expected to Grow

By Jesse Wood

US ForestNov. 12, 2013. Days after the N.C. Forest Service increased its fire readiness plan due to dry and windy conditions and downed leaves, approximately 20 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service are now working to contain a 40-acre wildfire in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, which is a part of the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest.

Located in the east-central part of the gorge, the fire is threatening the vacant Outward Bound base camp and is one-quarter mile southwest of Table Rock Mountain, according to the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday afternoon. No other homes or structures are threatened at this time.

“Currently, firefighters are creating fire lines to suppress the fire. A Type 3 Incident Command Team has been ordered to suppress the fire and will be in place by the end of tomorrow. This will bring the total number of Forest Service and other firefighters to close to 40. The National Forests in North Carolina Forest Supervisor has approved the use of mechanized equipment (such as leaf blowers and chainsaws) to suppress the wildfire in the wilderness area. The Forest Service will use bulldozers outside the wilderness area. Two helicopters will also help suppress the wildfire,” a press release noted at 3 p.m.

The U.S. Forest Service is working with the N.C. Forest Service, Burke County Emergency Management, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to suppress the fire.

The cause of fire is currently under investigation, and a release noted that more information would be provided as it becomes available.

About 8 a.m. this morning, an individual traveling down Highway 181 alerted Avery County Ranger Joe Shoupe of a fire near the Table Rock and Linville Gorge area. Because it was outside of the jurisdiction of the N.C. Forest Service, Shoupe then contacted the U.S. Forest Service, which located the fire, found access and began working on containing the fire.

“They’ll probably be working on that for seven days. It’s in a real rugged, remote area,” Shoupe said.

The N.C. Forest Service increased its fire readiness plan rating to three on Friday.  That rating indicates the potential for moderate fire activity.

Both Shoupe and Watauga County Ranger Stuart Scott said that the High Country has been fortunate so far because of the lack of fires amidst dry conditions of the past month.

“We’ve been pretty lucky,” Scott said, adding that even though the High Country has had a rainy summer, sustained winds don’t take long to dry out surface fuels in the forest. 

“It’s been very dry, and we haven’t had many fires that escaped any control – mostly just reports of smoke from debris, burning piles and large vegetation. But to remind the public, it doesn’t take much when winds are increased like now to let a fire get out. Just really practice safe burning techniques and have the ability to put out fires quickly if they get away.” 

Shoupe added that Avery County has had only one fire in the past weeks or so.

“With dry conditions, so far, thankfully, we haven’t had a tremendous amount of fires,” Shoupe said. “The conditions have been really bad for fires. We’ve been fortunate. We are in some pretty critical fire conditions right now.”

He added that even though some snow is in the forecast, he said “it’s not supposed to do a whole lot.” 

With woodstoves being used for the winter, Shoupe advises people to be real careful with ash disposal and debris burns, too.

“Have a plan [to put out a fire] in place, before you start the fire,” Shoupe said. 

To see the daily fire plan in your district click here

This is the number of daily fires in North Carolina in November. Courtesy N.C. Forest Service