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Update: Wildfire in Southeast Corner of Watauga Burns 100+ Acres, Contained, ‘Mop Up’ Begins in Morning

“Taken from U.S. 321  heading towards Lenoir.” Nicole Wagoner took this photo and posted it on Watauga County Road Conditions Facebook page. –

By Jesse Wood


Nov. 10, 2012. At 7 p.m. on Saturday, Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Kent Graham said the forest fire in southeastern Watauga has been contained, and “mop up” will start first thing in the morning and should be finished by mid-day Sunday.

N.C. Forest Service has been in command utilizing bulldozers for the containment line, though, he added that Asst. Chief Matt McGuire successfully attacked the fire “safely and fairly aggressively” by burning the fire back after scouting forestry lines.

A N.C. Forest Service official out of Wilkes County will be “babysitting the lines” tonight, Graham said, adding that night time operations are kind of dangerous.

At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, fire departments from Deep Gap, Foscoe, Boone, Blowing Rock, Cove Creek and the N.C. Forest Service will go back out to the Sampson area to finish off any glowing embers that remain.

Recent conditions of low humidity have been conducive for fires, and luckily the wind wasn’t a “threatening factor” today, Graham said.

He added that this time of year is always a concern for forest fires in the High Country, which has two fire seasons – the fall and spring. 

For more details on this story, a map of affected areas and the probable cause, read the previous post below:

Wildfire in Southeast Corner of Watauga Burns 100+ Acres, Only About 50 Percent Contained at 4:30 p.m.

By Jesse Wood

Nov. 10, 2012. Today, folks in the High Country have experienced both the rumblings of an earthquake and the smog and ash from a huge forest fire several miles east of Blowing Rock.

Located in the southeast corner of Watauga County, the forest fire that has consumed more than 100 acres in the Sampson area is only about 50 percent contained, according to Tater Maines of the N.C. Forest Service, as of 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.  

Numerous volunteer fire departments in the High Country began responding to the fire, which is located between Paisley Ridge and Rock House roads at about 6:30 a.m. this morning – about an hour before the N.C. Forest Service was notified. 

Watauga County Communications sent out a Facebook post earlier this morning that, along with the N.C. Forest Service, crews from Stewart Simmons Fire, Blowing Rock Fire, Boone Fire and Yadkin Valley Fire Departments were were “working a pretty good fire.”

Then an hour later, the agency sent out another post advising people not to burn today, adding, “We’re having fires pop up everywhere.”

Maines said the fire is believed to have been started from a campfire that was on private land. Maines said the fireman are having trouble containing the fire because it keeps “jumping over the containment line,” and he added that crews hope to have the fire contained this evening. 

The “A” is the general area but not the exact location of the fire.

As the firefighters work on the ground, an UH1 Huey helicopter from Lenoir is dumping water in the area and a bulldozer works on the containment line, both of which are N.C. Forest Service equipment. 

Smoke has been billowing towards Boone and ash has been falling on residents’ homes in the eastern part of the county for hours. It has been spotted at the Boone Golf Club, Food Lion on Old U.S. 421 and many more places.

The smoke has been so plentiful and traveling such distances that crews have been called out elsewhere in eastern Boone to investigate and to only find out the smoke is related to the forest fire that began in the Sampson area at dawn.

At about 4 p.m., the Watauga County Communications sent out its latest update: “The Penley Rd fire is dropping smoke and ashes around eastern Boone. There is a lot of smoke being generated.”

So far, Maines said that “we’ve been fortunate” that no structure loss or injuries have happened due to the fire – just woodlands.

For more information, check out Watauga County Road Conditions Facebook page for more photos and updates sent in by readers that have been on the road.