WNC Wildfires Nov. 22 Evening Summary

Published Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 9:38 pm

See rolling post of coverage on the Horton Fire in Watauga here and general coverage, including maps and donation opportunities.

Fires or Fire Complexes 11
Incident Management Teams Type I = 2 team

Type II = 5 teams

Type III = 1 team

Total Acreage 69,196
Personnel over 2,900

PUBLIC MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTS 

CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – PLEASANT GARDENS, MCDOWELL COUNTY)

A community meeting is being held tonight 6:30 PM at the Greenlee Baptist Church on 5977 US 70 W in Old Fort, NC.

Clear Creek Fire Facebook Page – Meeting information

ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC) 
A community meeting is being held tonight at 6:00 PM at the Macon County Community Center next to the Otto Firehouse on 60 Firehouse Drive in Otto, NC.

Rock Mountain Fire Facebook Page – Meeting information

EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES

For current information on NCDOT closures please visit: https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/

HORTON FIRE Pre-evacuations:

Residents living on Watson Drive have been evacuated. Area residents along Dugger Fire Tower Road and Flat Mountain Road should continue to prepare for imminent, mandatory evacuations. If residents feel that their safety is in danger, county officials recommend they self-evacuate to a safe location.

The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at the Alliance Bible Fellowship Church at 1035 NC Hwy 105 Bypass in Boone, NC. Evacuees with pets may take their pets to the Watauga County Humane Society at Paws Way in Boone, NC.
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE Pre-evacuations and Evacuations:

Towns County, GA – Evacuation notice in effect for residents north of Tate City in the Dream Catcher Cove Area.

Rabun County GA – Pre-evacuation for Patterson Gap north of Ramah Darom Church Camp and pre-evacuation of all roads at Bettys Creek, north of Tom Wilson Road to the state line; this includes Messer Creek Road, Hambidge Court, High Darnell Road, Bryes Place Lane.

For current road closures go to: ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE

·      Pre-evacuation for Tate City

·     Evacuation notice in effect for residents in the Dream Catcher Cove Area, north of Tate City 

AIR QUALITY INFORMATION 

General Forecast Discussion:

Winds are expected to increase out of the south tomorrow with increasing clouds ahead of an incoming upper-level disturbance. A few rain showers may be possible over the Mountains tomorrow night. These steadier southerly winds are expected to carry smoke from ongoing area wildfires northward across the Mountains and foothills of western North Carolina tomorrow. Code Red conditions are likely tomorrow in the Asheville forecast region as well as in Macon, McDowell and Mitchell counties. Code Orange conditions may be possible over western portions of the Hickory forecast region tomorrow as well as over the remaining Mountain counties and the southern Foothills. 

 Outlook:

More humid air is expected to build in to the region Thursday as the upper-level disturbance moves east across the Carolinas with a few rain showers. Winds will be steady out of the west and southwest. Marginally drier air will build in behind this disturbance Friday with winds becoming northwesterly. Unhealthy air quality will remain a possibility Thursday into Friday over western North Carolina including the Asheville and Hickory forecast regions, with Code Yellow or Code Green conditions expected elsewhere. However, depending on fire behavior and the evolution of the meteorology in the coming days, portions of the Piedmont including the Charlotte forecast region may need to be evaluated for possible Code Orange conditions on Friday.

Smoke Conditions: 

The far western communities in North Carolina (Robbinsville, Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville) are experiencing widespread smoke from the Rock Mountain wildfire in NE Georgia, as well as from residual smoldering from the “Nantahala Branch” fires, including Tellico, Boteler, Dick’s Creek, Boteler, and Maple Springs. 
 The Pinnacle Mountain Fire is causing smoke impacts well into North Carolina, including Transylvania, Henderson and Buncombe Counties. The Clear Creek Fire continues to impact McDowell County and areas north into Yancey and Mitchell Counties.
With so many fires in North Carolina, smoke will likely be an issue somewhere nearly every day. Please use caution when traveling to your Thanksgiving destinations. Smoke remains thick in many areas and along roadways. Smoke from nearby wildfires or changes in the weather create conditions that may seriously impair visibility on roadways. Smoke is the thickest at night and early morning when the air contains more moisture and often settles into low-lying areas and drainages. Under "smoked-in" conditions drivers need to be extra cautious. However, the best way to stay safe in such low-visibility conditions is to simply avoid driving altogether.

With so many fires in North Carolina, smoke will likely be an issue somewhere nearly every day. Please use caution when traveling to your Thanksgiving destinations. Smoke remains thick in many areas and along roadways. Smoke from nearby wildfires or changes in the weather create conditions that may seriously impair visibility on roadways. Smoke is the thickest at night and early morning when the air contains more moisture and often settles into low-lying areas and drainages. Under “smoked-in” conditions drivers need to be extra cautious. However, the best way to stay safe in such low-visibility conditions is to simply avoid driving altogether.

DONATION CONTACT INFORMATION
Watauga County will only be accepting monetary donations in support of the wildland fires. They asked that all donations be directed to the American Red Cross.  Please see link to American Red Cross Web Site.

The McDowell County Office of Emergency Management has stated that no more donations are needed at this time. Clear Creek Fire personnel greatly appreciate the overwhelming support and donations.

Many of the counties continue to receive donations for individual fires. To donate to an area fire near you or to the Western North Carolina Firefighters Association monetary fund, go to http://ncjic.blogspot.com/p/donations.html
ARSON REPORTING

McDowell County Hotline:  Anyone with information about the Clear Creek or Piney Mountain Fires, or a possible suspect, is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 828-652-2235, or the 911 communications center at 828-652-4000 or McDowell County Crimestoppers at 828-652-7463 (65-CRIME).  You can also text tips to Crimestoppers by texting MCDOWELLTIPS and your information to 274637 (CRIMES).  With Crimestoppers your identity remains anonymous and you could receive a cash reward.

For all the information on rewards for arson reporting, click here.

BURNING RESTRICTIONS

A North Carolina Forest Service ban on all open burning has expanded with the addition of 22 counties for a total of 47 counties, which includes: Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey. 

This ban on open burning for the newly added counties became effective at 5 p.m. on November 21, 2016, and shall remain in effect until further notice. The ban on open burning for the previous counties went into effect at 5 p.m. on November 7, 2016, and remains in effect until further notice. Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued. The issuance of any new permits also has been suspended until the ban is lifted. For the list of current closures go to http://ncforestservice.gov/

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 atwww.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd524246.

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 is closed from Dicks Creek Gap/U.S. 76 in Georgia (mile 69.9) to the Nantahala River/US19/US74 in North Carolina (mile 137.1).

Call the US Forest Service office for more information on road and trail closures: 828-257-4200

TODAY’S UPDATES ON ACTIVE FIRES OR FIRE COMPLEXES

For more information visit: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/34/ 

HORTON FIRE (NCFS – WATAUGA COUNTY)

Sampson Road is closed; access is for emergency vehicles only. 
 
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered. Residents that do not live in the Blue Ridge Mountain Club/Upper Sampson area are asked to not go sightseeing in this area. The traffic congestion from people trying to see the fire is hampering emergency operations.An interactive map may be viewed at the Horton Fire Blog.

Additional fire crews from Alexander County, Avery County, Catawba County, and Wilkes County have been assigned to the Horton Fire. Today’s objective was to establish containment around the wildfire. Widening fire containment lines through back burning operations and other strategies were also being completed.

Acreage: 400Start Date: November 21

http://hortonfire.blogspot.com/

PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS – PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)

Current information is unchanged from the Morning Summary and will be updated as information is received.

Acreage: 6,000– Personnel: 200 –Start Date: November 9

https://www.state.sc.us/forest/

CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)

A shelter is now open at Nebo Crossing Church for residents affected by the smoke from the Clear Creek Fire. Transportation is available by calling 828-652-3241 or 828-652-3982. A public meeting is being held 6:30 PM tonight at the Greenlee Baptist Church on 5977 US 70 W – Old Fort, NC.  Please note that the Clear Creek Road, at the junction with Old Clear Creek Road, is closed to residential traffic only. The growth on this fire is expected to increase, and acreage will be provided on the Morning Summary.

Acreage: 1,187 – Containment: 0% – Personnel: 150 – Start Date: November 20

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5106/#

MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The fire is winding down and transitioning to the Boeteler Nantahala
Acreage: 7,788 – Containment: 69% – Personnel: 276 – Start Date: November4http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5090/

TELLICO FIRE (USFS-NANTAHALA GORGE AREA, SWAIN AND MACON COUNTIES)

Today, crews worked on the southwest side of the fires along the last remaining section of uncontained line near Partridge Creek Road west of Deweese Road. Else. Crews elsewhere around the perimeter will monitor, patrol, and blow leaves off containment lines.
Acreage: 13,874- Containment: 91% – Personnel: 294- Start Date: November 3http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5084/

BOTELER FIRE (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)

With leaves falling and reburning and gusty winds persisting, crews continued monitoring hotspots and strengthening firelines again today. Containment efforts were hampered by continued leaf drop and reburn, but firefighters are diligently patrolling and monitoring existing containment lines. Hotspots detected through nightly infrared flights are being closely monitored. Firefighters are prepared to respond to any new fire starts in the area.

Acreage: 9,043- Containment: 77% – Personnel: 334 – Start Date: October 25

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5075/

CATHEY GAP FIRE (USFS – JACKSON/TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY LINE)

Today, fifteen firefighters with two engines walked the fire perimeter, looking for any persistent hotspots smoldering in duff, freshly fallen leaves, or tree stumps. They removed leaves off containment lines to ensure that any interior reburning does not compromise those lines.

Acreage: 123 – Containment: 90% – Personnel: 53 – Start Date: November 17http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5105/ 

PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)

Fire fighters continued to mop-up the fire perimeter today, thankful that fire lines have held after three straight days of strong winds. Mop-up is the process of making sure all hot spots near the perimeter are out cold. Crews will remain vigilant since the fuels that drove the growth of the Party Rock Fire are still critically dry and more fuel, in the form of falling leaves, were being spread by the wind. Hot spots remain and have been visible, especially at night, and those are being dealt with if they pose a threat to structures or the containment lines.

Some fire crews headed home or to other fires today. No further donations are needed to support the personnel that remain. 

After managing the fire for two weeks, The Brandon North Carolina Incident Management team is also heading home tomorrow. An Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team is now on site and will take management of the fire tomorrow morning.
Acreage: 7,171 – Containment: 45% – Personnel: 902 – Start Date: November 5

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5092/# 

CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Crews continued to isolate and extinguish spots of re-ignition within the fire perimeter. 
Acreage: 6,433- Containment: 65% – Personnel: 352 – Start Date: November 6
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5101/

DOBSON 3 FIRE (BIA-

QUALLA BOUNDARY, JACKSON COUNTY)
Fire resources were sent to the Clear Creek Fire to assist the Uwharrie Ranger Dist. Fire suppression crews continue to patrol all fires within the Qualla Boundary.
Acreage: 756- Containment: 90% – Personnel: 71 – Start Date: November 2

ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)

A community meeting is being held tonight at the Macon County Community Center next to the Otto Firehouse on 60 Firehouse Dr. at 6 P.M. Flames from the Rock Mountain Fire were visible from Patterson Gap, Betty’s Creek and the Wolffork Road areas. 

Rabun County, GA – Call 470-208-2866 for further information

·      Pre-evacuation for Patterson Gap north of Ramah Darom Church Camp

·      Pre-evacuation of all roads at Bettys Creek, north of Tom Wilson Rd. to the state line, which includes Messer Creek Rd., Hambridge Ct., High Darnell Rd. and Bryes Place Lane 

Towns County, GA – Call 706-896-7460 for further information

·      Pre-evacuation for Tate City

·      Evacuation notice in effect for residents in the Dream Catcher Cove Area, north of Tate City 

Closures

·      Charlies Creek Road, off Tallulah River Road

·      Tallulah River Road (Forest Service Road 70)

·      Appalachian Trail between Dicks Creek Gap, GA and Rock Gap, NC

·      Patterson Gap Road from Betty’s Creek Road to Poplar Gap (USFS road)

·      Betty’s Creek Road from Patterson Gap to North Carolina state line (Rabun County)

·      Mulberry from the North Carolina state line to Pagonia Drive/Beasley Gap (Macon County)

Acreage: 14,757- Containment: 30% – Personnel: 458- Start Date: November 9
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5100/#

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