NEBO, N.C., March 24, 2016 – The North Peak Fire was reported yesterday morning, Wednesday, March 23, in McDowell County. The fire started on North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission Game Lands. As of this morning, the fire is also burning on private and Pisgah National Forest Lands on the Grandfather Ranger District.
The fire is burning through rugged terrain north of Lake James Road, East of Hankins Road, and south of Bald Knob, just north of Lake James and 5 miles northeast of Marion, N.C. The cause of the wildfire is currently under investigation.
The fire is currently estimated at 300 acres, 30% contained. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) are managing the fire jointly with resources from both agencies and support from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, McDowell County Emergency Management Services, Hankins-North Fork Volunteer Fire Department, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
71 firefighters are currently assigned to the incident. Firefighters are working to complete containment lines this morning as well as providing point protection for structures and equipment in private rock quarries within the fire boundary. Low humidity and high winds have hampered suppression efforts. A scout plane and helicopter will be assisting today for reconnaissance and water drops as needed.
The area adjacent to where the fire is burning has a history of prescribed fire treatments and wildfires. These areas provide natural fire breaks and allow for utilization of existing containment lines.
Minimizing risk for firefighters, local communities, and the public are primary goals. Heavy smoke may be present today in the Lake James area. Members of the public traveling in the area should use caution when driving. Officials are asking the public to avoid the area for their own safety and the safety of emergency response personnel on scene.