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White Creek Fire in the Linville Gorge 80 Percent Contained, Now Estimated 4,355 Acres

Residents across the Grandfather District could see the plume of smoke from the White Creek Fire in Linville Gorge yesterday evening. Smoke from wildfires can take various forms depending on weather. Yesterday, atmospheric conditions were favorable to allow smoke to lift and disperse quickly. Heat from the interior of the fire pulled the smoke to form a column that to lifted 5,500 feet above ground.

Firefighters completed burnout operations on the White Creek fire yesterday, increasing containment to 80%. The fire, which was reported Thursday March 16th, is burning near Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is now estimated at 4,355 acres.

Fire managers took advantage of a weather conditions yesterday to finish burnout operations to secure fire lines. Unless conditions change, no additional burnout operations are expected. Operations yesterday focused on securing private property on the south end of the fire.

Today, firefighters are focusing on extinguishing remaining hot-spots near fire lines. The fire continues to burn within containment lines, and firefighters are working to monitor and patrol the area. Smoke will decrease throughout the day, but may continue to impact local communities through the weekend.

Fire manager’s biggest challenge on the White Creek fire is working within the rugged terrain in the Wilderness while maintaining firefighter safety. Identification of routes to get safely out of the fire area are a big consideration when determining the location of control lines. Indirect suppression techniques can also allow fire managers to work from defensible lines where available. This approach can result in a larger fire area, but minimizes risk for firefighters. Use of existing natural barriers, roads and containment lines also reduces impacts to the landscape from fire line construction.

155 firefighters are currently on scene. The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with support from the North Carolina Forest Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Burke and McDowell County Emergency Management, North Carolina Emergency Management, and local volunteer fire departments. Law enforcement officials determined lightning to be the likely cause of the fire.

An area closure remains in effect for all U.S. Forest Service lands east of State Road 1238 (Old NC 105 / Kistler Memorial Highway), south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), south of Table Rock Picnic Area, west of Back Irish Creek Forest Service Road #118 (Blue Gravel Road) and Roses Creek Forest Service Road #99, north of Highway 126. In addition, the following trails are closed: Shortoff Trail (Tr #235), Rock Jock Trail (Tr #247), Pinch-In Trail (Tr #228), Linville Gorge Trail (Tr #231) south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), Mountains to Sea Trail (Tr #440) from State Road 1238 at Pinnacles to the Table Rock Picnic Area, and any social trails existing within the closure area. Public entry is prohibited within this area.  

Remember: Flying a drone near a wildfire is breaking the law. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. So, be smart and just don’t fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire.

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