Significant rainfall allowed firefighters to fully contain the 521 acre Blue Gravel wildfire on the Pisgah National Forest in the Shortoff Mountain area of Burke County. All areas, trails and roads closed during emergency operations are now reopened. Visitors should be aware of changing weather conditions and potential tree hazards.
After initial attack operations were not successful, Forest Service responders assessed the values at risk and risk to firefighters. It was determined unnecessary to send firefighters into difficult terrain to suppress the fire when high values were not at risk and success was uncertain. The decision was made to fall back to established containment lines proven successful on previous wildfires. In doing so it also eliminated creating new impacts on the landscape from building new fire line.
Positive results of the fire include a reduction of fuels that could contribute to severe fires in the future and benefits to wildlife. New growth encouraged by the fire will improve wildlife habitat and feeding grounds.
Low, backing fires moved through fire-adapted shortleaf pine restoration areas, which are managed as part of the Grandfather Ranger District's Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program, one of ten projects nationally.Authorized for 10 years through the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) was created to emphasize partnerships between government and local forest workers, sawmill owners, conservationists, businesses, sportsmen, outdoor recreationists and others to improve forest health and promote the well-being of local communities.
The fire was reported the afternoon of Saturday April 11th. The cause of the fire is under investigation. There were no evacuations, injuries or structures lost.
Resources are assigned to the Fire were from the U.S. Forest Service, NC Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and the local volunteer fire department.
Residents and visitors to the North Carolina mountain region are reminded that spring wildfire season is well underway and will continue until forestland leaf-out occurs sometime in May. For this reason, care should be taken when using fire while drier fuel conditions exist.