Containment continues to increase on all fires, as crews work to secure containment lines ahead of the wind event tonight into tomorrow. Total large fire acreage today is at just over 45,000 acres, an increase of 1,621 acres from yesterday. High fire danger is expected tomorrow, with possible red flag fire weather warnings. The passing cold front will briefly increases humidity levels, but no rain is expected. Once the front passes, we can expect much higher spread risks Saturday as winds turn to the NW at 10-15 mph with gusts to near 30 mph and humidity dropping to the low 20s to low 30 percents Sunday.
AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Air quality is forecast to improve tomorrow, as high winds will push smoke out of Western NC. A code orange air quality is forecast for much of western NC tomorrow. Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.
North Carolina is offering a reward of up to $10,000 to be issued to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible for setting wildfires in western North Carolina. Anyone having information concerning these wildfires should contact Macon County Crimestoppers at (828) 349-2600 or Jackson County Crimestoppers at (828) 631-1125.
A total fire ban is in effect for all lands in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests; however, commercially available heating equipment, portable lanterns, or stoves that use gas or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed. More information is at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd524246.
A North Carolina Forest Service ban on all open burning in all 25 Western NC counties. More information is at www.ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2016.htm# 1107161.
TODAYS UPDATES ON MAJOR AREA FIRES
For more information visit: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/34/
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The latest infrared flight showed a decrease in hot spots on the Maple Springs fire. Nearly all the remaining hot spots on the Maple Springs fire are located well inside the perimeter of the fire in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness. There are a few hot spots along the southern perimeter of the fire that helicopters will be dumping water on today.
Acreage: 7,788 – Containment: 51% – Personnel: 342 – Start Date: November 4
TELLICO FIRE (USFS-NANTAHALA GORGE AREA, SWAIN AND MACON COUNTIES)
The most current infrared flight data indicated hot spots along dozer line in the Fairview area. Crews will work to strengthen containment lines and extinguish any hot spots within 100 feet of containment lines in this area. Fire crews on the remaining perimeter of the Tellico Fire will continue with mop up operations, clear containment lines of accumulated leaf fall, and patrol the perimeter. Special attention will be paid to patrolling around homes within the fire area.
Acreage: 13,874 – Containment: 81% – Personnel: 464 – Start Date: November 3
BOTELER FIRE (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)
Today firefighters will continue to secure fire lines and mop up areas near structures off Cedar Cliff and Jackie Cove Roads. This afternoon, warm temperatures, low relative humidity and increasing winds could increase fire activity and the potential for re-burn within the fire perimeter.
Acreage: 8,967 – Containment: 57% – Personnel: 426 – Start Date: October 25
CATHY GAP FIRE (USFS – JACKSON/TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY LINE)
The Cathy Gap Fire started around midnight on November 17, 2016. Initial attack firefighters and equipment from the Franklin staging area were dispatched. By late Thursday afternoon, utilizing hand crews, a bull dozer and burning operations, they had constructed containment lines around the fire. Friday, crews on the Cathy Gap Fire will continue to strengthen these containment lines, do mop up and patrol the perimeter.
Acreage: 123 – Containment: 0% – Personnel: 35 – Start Date: November 17
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Several helicopters and a large air tanker supported firefighters as containment was completed last night down to Rumbling Bald Resort communities. A significant wind event is forecast for this weekend. Fire managers will have a large contingency of firefighting equipment including structure protection to patrol containment lines and the communities.
Acreage: 6,712 – Containment: 32% – Personnel: 920 – Start Date: November 5
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Air support has been critical to daytime operations with water and retardant drops. Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), helicopters, and large air tankers were utilized. Additional resources are still being ordered and arriving daily. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has closed South Mountains Game Land north of N.C. 226.
Acreage: 5,929 – Containment: 29% – Personnel: 262 – Start Date: November 6
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (NORTHWEST OF CLAYTON, GA)
The fire is currently five miles southeast of the town of Shooting Creek, NC in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. Crews and dozers continue working on a two mile segment of fireline to complete burnout on the slope above Tate City. Towns County fire department will continue to protect structures in Tate City.
Acreage: 9,382- Containment: 30% – Personnel: 559 – Start Date: November 9
EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES
For current information on NCDOT closures please visit: https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/
BURKE COUNTY Mandatory Evacuation:
Residents along Bob Knob Road.
Evacuation Shelter: Collett Street Recreation Center, 300 Collett St. Morganton
HENDERSON COUNTY Mandatory Evacuations:
Buncombe and Henderson County officials and fire managers have determined that re-entry by evacuated residents can occur this weekend. Re-entry for evacuated communities in Henderson County, Bat Cave and along Highway 9, will occur Saturday (November 19th) at noon. Windshield passes are required to enter these areas. Only affected residents and businesses can obtain a re-entry permit. Permits can be obtained directly from the Bat Cave Fire Department. The evacuation area affected by this notice will remain closed to visitors and through-traffic on Highway 74-A/64 until further notice. All evacuated Buncombe County residents will be allowed back into their homes effective noon on Saturday. No re-entry permit will be required.
Evacuation Shelter: 7th Day Adventist Church at 2301 Asheville Highway, Hendersonville
NANTAHALA NATIONAL FOREST CLOSURES
Major closures on the Nantahala include:
- Southern Nantahala Wilderness (North Carolina)
- Nantahala National Forest lands east of Eagle Fork community to Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary
- Nantahala National Forest lands south of US 64 and Allison Creek Road (SR 1448), to the Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary (including the Standing Indian and Hurricane Creek areas)
- Nantahala National Forest lands west of the Nantahala Mountains ridge from Mooney Gap to Wallace Gap, and west to the Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary (including the Appalachian Trail, side trails, and shelter sites)
- Nantahala National Forest lands north of US64 and east of State Road 1330 to Nantahala Ranger District boundary
- Nantahala National Forest lands south and east of State Road 1307 from State Road 1330 to US64 and the Nantahala Ranger District Boundary
- Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness
- Wesser Creek Trail
- Chunky Gal Trail
- Whitewater Falls Trail and portions of Foothills Trail
- Benton MacKaye Trail east of Beech Gap
- Appalachian Trail in Nantahala National Forest
Call the US Forest Service office for more information on road and trail closures: 828-257-4200