NEBO, N.C., June 16, 2016 – Portions of the Brown Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) area will reopen at 10:00am tomorrow, Friday June 17. Brown Mountain Road and all trails except 1A in its entirety and portions of trail 1B and trail 2 will be open to the public. Pearcey Creek Road, trail 1A, and portions of trails 1B and 2 will remain closed until the area receives significant rainfall.
The Upper Creek Fire is burning on in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest in the Brown Mountain area in Burke County, north of Morganton, NC. The fire remains at 170 acres and is now 90% contained.
To protect public and firefighter safety, the public is asked to heed signs posted at trailheads and to avoid the fire area and closed roads and trails. Visitors to the area can expect to see minimal smoke from hotspots in the interior of the fire area until the fire is fully contained.
The fire was caused by a lightning strike, which smoldered in place until low humidity on June 7 allowed it to slowly spread. Brown Mountain has a long history of wildfires, particularly from lightning strikes. The fire adapted vegetation along the ridge will see multiple benefits from the low-intensity wildfire. Reduction in forest fuels, such as leaf litter, sticks, and logs, will reduce the potential for future high-intensity wildfires. The fire will also benefit wildlife habitat by creating small openings in the forest and favoring grasses, wildflowers, and berries that provide a food source for a variety of animals.
The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with assistance from the North Carolina Forest Service and Burke County Emergency Management.