Joint Information Center: WNC Wildfires Evening Summary for Friday, Nov. 25

Published Friday, November 25, 2016 at 7:51 pm

 

CURRENT SITUATION FOR WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Fires or Fire Complexes
11
Incident Management Teams
Type I = 2 teams
Type II = 5 teams
Type III = 1 teams
Total Acreage
78,241
Personnel
Over 2500
 
Nine incident management teams (type-1 and type-2) and more than 6,000 federal and state personnel from across the country have been deployed to assist impacted communities across the Southeast Region with fire suppression. This effort is complemented by the support of hundreds of state volunteer firefighters and other emergency personnel.
 
In North Carolina alone, federal aviation assets including 7 air attack planes, 8 SEATS (Single Engine Air Tankers), 6 Type 1 (large) helicopters, 5 Type 2 (medium) helicopters and 5 Type 3 (small) helicopters are currently in use. A Fire Prevention Education Team (FPET) has deployed in the state to help raise awareness of wildfire dangers related to the drought. Fire prevention information can be found at http://ncjic.blogspot.com/p/prevention.html.
 
Air quality issues due to drifting smoke continue to plague several urban areas. Multiple new reports also suggest a significant rise in hospital visits due to smoke-related respiratory issues.
 
AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Less smoke compared to recent days. Code Orange air quality still possible in parts of the mountains and foothills.
Date: Friday, November 25, 2016 – 15:00 ET
Forecast Valid: Saturday, November 26, 2016
 
 

Air Quality Conditions: As of early afternoon, the only monitor within the Code Orange range was in Marion/McDowell County, which is being impacted by smoke from the Clear Creek fire. Areas of Code Orange air quality are possible near active and smoldering wildfires, especially in Macon county and areas to the west and southwest of Asheville. Code Orange air quality may also be occurring near the Horton Fire in Watauga County. Across the rest of the state particle pollution is mainly in the Code Yellow range. For a display of the most recent air quality conditions throughout the remainder of this afternoon, please visit the US EPA’s AIRNOW web site, http://www.airnow.gov.

General Forecast Discussion: For tonight and Saturday, an upper level disturbance will swing by the area and will help drive cooler air into the region. It will be mostly sunny with a north to northwest breeze and deep mixing. The increased winds and good mixing will help disperse the smoke, and only a relatively limited area near and downwind (south/southeast) of active wild fires will experience Code Orange air quality. The amount of smoke being generated by the fires is reduced, which will also limit the area coverage of smoke. Code Orange air quality is forecast for McDowell County, which will be downwind of the Clear Creek Fire, and also Macon County where there are a couple of active fires. Code Orange air quality is also possible to any active and smoldering fires in Watauga County and south/southwest of Asheville.

Outlook: High pressure will move over the area by Sunday afternoon, and winds will become light and variable. Any smoke will drift southward early then tend to spread out in the area near the fires during the afternoon. High pressure will shift offshore on Monday and a warm southwest flow will develop. Any leftover smoke will be transported north to northeast. A frontal system with wetting rain will arrive on Tuesday to hopefully extinguish the fires and put an end our bouts of smoke.

 
TODAY’S UPDATES ON ACTIVE FIRES OR FIRE COMPLEXES
 
HWY 151 FIRE (USFS – CANDLER, BUNCOMBE COUNTY)
The Blue Ridge Parkway is reopened from mile marker 402 to 408. Little change reported on the fire this evening.
Acreage: ~200 – Start Date: November 24
 
HORTON FIRE (NCFS – BLOWING ROCK, WATAUGA COUNTY)
Correction: Wind gusts predicted for the Horton Fire area are expected up to 30 mph through the weekend, not up to 70 mph as posted this morning. Little change reported on the fire this evening.
 
The public is asked to avoid the Sampson Road area south of the Blue Ridge Parkway to provide safety for firefighters and local residents.
Acreage: 1408 – Containment: 65% – Personnel: 125 – Start Date: November 21
http://hortonfire.blogspot.com/
 
 
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
The community meeting is at 6:30 P.M. tonight at Grace Community Church, 5182 U.S.70 Marion, NC. Residents living in this area are asked to limit their travel on the roads to allow the firefighters to work safely. Hwy NC 80 is closed to non-residents from Toms Creek Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Yancey County line. Clear Creek Road is still closed; only residents living in the area have access.
 
Firefighters working on the southwest and western areas of the fire continued to construct and improve indirect fireline utilizing dozers and hand crews. Along the northwestern portion of the fire including near Locust Cove, crews continued to improve fireline in preparation for firing operations as needed. Structure protection work will continue in the Clear Creek Road, NC Hwy 80 and Locust Cove areas during night operations tonight.
Acreage: 2,623 – Containment: 30% – Personnel: 389 – Start Date: November 20
 
Boteler Fire (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, Clay County)
The Southern Area Blue Team is assigned management of the Boteler Fire and also manages the following fires: Camp Branch Fire, Tellico Fire, and Maple Springs. The SA Blue Team is also patrolling/monitoring: Old Roughy Fires, Buck Creek Fire, Falls Fire, Grape Cove Fire, Moses Creek Fire, Jones Gap Fire, Jarrett Knob Fire, Wine Spring Fire, Mulberry Fire, Moss Knob Fire, May Branch Fire, Boardtree Fire, Charley Creek Fire, Nick, Ridge Gap, Ferebee, Cliffside Fire, Whitewater Fire, Howard Gap, Knob, Muskrat, Bullpen, Jones Creek, Cathey Gap, Dick’s Creek
Yesterday’s wetting rain provided firefighters with one more day of moderate fire behavior as they continued to mop up and maintain containment lines. Although minimal smoke is present in the fire’s interior, the ground is holding significant heat, especially where rain was unable to penetrate the leafy tree canopy. Crews will closely monitor an interior fire in the Arch Ridge area north of the Mountain Meadows community. For current road closures in Macon County CLICK HERE
Acreage: 9,036- Containment: 77% – Personnel: 171 – Start Date: October 25
 
CAMP BRANCH FIRE (USFS – OTTO, MACON COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
The tree-felling crew removed numerous hazard trees, particularly along Wayah Road (SR 1310). The structure-protection group worked to secure private residences south of Wayah Bald along Wayah Road and in Bear Cove. Crews constructed approximately a quarter-mile of indirect handline. They also completed approximately five miles of dozer line construction and existing road improvements.
 
Indirect fireline construction is expected to be completed today. On the west side, the fireline extends from Forest Road (FR) 69 north to Rocky Bald Ridge and to FR 379B, eventually ending at Licklog Gap. On the east side, the fireline goes north from Locust Tree Branch Road to Ray Branch and then northwest to Licklog Gap. The structure protection group will continue to monitor private residences north of Wayah Road (SR 1310).
Acreage: 1363 – Containment: 20% – Personnel: 90 – Start Date: November 23
 
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Firefighters continued to patrol and mop up containment lines. Crews repaired areas affected by fire-suppression activities. For example, where mineral soil is exposed on handlines, they raked it to create a rough surface, spreading annual ryegrass seed and raking leaves over the seed to act as mulch. The short-lived grass will minimize erosion until native plants can get reestablished.
Acreage: 7,788 – Containment: 71% – Personnel: 185 – Start Date: November 4
 
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Crews are completing rehabilitation to ensure that the bulldozer lines and hand lines don’t contribute to erosion due to significant rain events.
 
Rumbling Bald Climbing Access area is closed until further notice. The Chimney Rock and Chimney Rock State Park Visitors Center as well as the Welcome Center at Lake Lure reopened to the public today. Three (3) community meetings are scheduled for Saturday 11/26/16:
10:00 A.M.
Lake Lure Fire Department – 622 Memorial HWY – Lake Lure
12:00 P.M.
Chimney Rock Fire Department – 109 Terrace Dr. – Lake Lure
2:00 P.M.
Bat Cave Baptist Church – 5095 Chimney Rock Rd. – Hendersonville
Acreage: 7,171 – Containment: 70% – Personnel:   306 – Start Date: November 5
 
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Burnout operations planned for the area between Rock Mountain Fire and the Patterson Gap area were implemented this afternoon. Residents of the Betty’s Creek area will see smoke as firefighters continue to monitor the fire burning slowly toward containment lines. The intent is to strengthen the fireline by using fire to consume available dead and down vegetation on the landscape between the front of the fire and the containment line.
 
Mulberry Road, southwest of Franklin in Macon County near the Georgia state line, is still closed to through traffic. All evacuations are still in place; to see the latest pre-evacuation and evacuation updates, CLICK HERE.
Acreage: ~19,000 – Containment: 35% – Personnel: 567- Start Date: November 9
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5100/#
 
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Continue mop up and holding the lines in all divisions. Containment lines are looking good and holding.  Crews worked on rehabilitation to ensure that the bulldozer lines and hand lines don’t contribute to erosion due to significant rain events.
Acreage: 6,435 – Containment: 80% – Personnel: 154 – Start Date: November 6
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5101/
 
PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS – PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)
Crews reinforced firelines during burnout operations. The fire south of Saluda River is nearing full containment. Crews will continue to monitor and mop up any hot spots; structure protection is on-going. Local resources from the Transylvania County Volunteer Fire Department coordinated with the incident management team today to assist as needed.
 
Closures: Table Rock State Park and the trail system remain closed.
For more information, CLICK HERE.
 
Acreage: 8,903– Containment: 40% – Personnel: 258 – Start Date: November 9
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5108/
 
 
FOREST AND TRAIL CLOSURES
Nantahala National Forest Closures
 
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests (relative to the ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE). http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/conf/home/?cid=fseprd523949
 
APPALACHIAN TRAIL (A.T.)
 

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