Horton Fire Updates

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Below are ongoing updates regarding the Horton Fire in the Sampson area of Watauga County, including previous posted content from another article on WataugaOnline.com  For more photos and videos visit this link.

REMINDER – If you have family or renters or anyone from out of the immediate area coming into the High Country make them aware there is a burning ban in effect. Local fire departments continue to get calls about outside burning taking place. The ban remains in effect until further notice.


Final Update
Watauga County, NC (December 2, 2016-8:00 AM)

The Horton fire is 100% contained at 1,450 acres. Despite the complexity of the Horton Fire, there were no injuries sustained by emergency responders throughout the duration of this incident. As crews travel home today, fire managers continue to emphasize safety. “We want all our responders to make it safely home to their families,” said Incident Commander Rodney Weeks.

The North Idaho Type 3 Incident Management Team will transfer command of the fire back to local management tomorrow. Local firefighters will continue to monitor the fire until it reaches full controlled status. Smoke from deep pockets of heat within containment lines may be visible for several day but is not expected to pose a threat.

The North Idaho Type 3 Incident Management Team received remarkable cooperation from the community and from local, state, and federal agencies. The support was a major factor in helping firefighters contain the Horton Fire

The Watauga County burn ban is still in effect. The ban that has been in effect since November 7 prohibits outdoor open flames and cancels any burning permits.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (December 1, 2016-8:30 AM)

The Horton fire is 95% contained and 1,450 acres. There are approximately 50 resources on the fire. Over three inches of rain have helped firefighters extinguish hot spots. Although the rain significantly cooled surface heat, more moisture is necessary to reach deep-seated pockets of heat that hold out in stump holes. Steep terrain, hidden hot spots and snags still pose hazards to firefighters mopping up hot spots.

Fire managers developed a rehabilitation plan with North Carolina State Forest Service for the Horton Fire area. This plan involves, to the extent possible, returning the landscape that has been modified during firefighting operations to its original state.

The Watauga County burn ban is still in effect. The ban that has been in effect since November 7 prohibits outdoor open flames and cancels any burning permits.

The Incident Command Post has moved to the Blowing Rock Fire Department.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (November 30, 2016-9:30 AM)

The Horton fire is 90% contained and 1,450 acres. There are approximately 50 resources on the fire. Firefighters will continue to monitor and patrol the perimeter, extinguishing hotspots. Although the rain significantly cooled surface heat, only a ¼ inch of was received overnight. This is not enough moisture to cool deep-seated pockets of heat that hold out in stump holes.

Steep terrain, hidden hotspots and snags pose hazards to firefighters mopping up hotspots. Fire managers are developing a rehabilitation plan with North Carolina State Forest Service for the Horton Fire area. This plan involves, to the extent possible, returning the landscape that has been modified during firefighting operations to its original state.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (November 29, 2016-8:30 AM)

The Horton fire area has received over 3/4” of rain with more on the way. The rain brings much needed moisture to the area. Fire managers plan to reassess the containment percentage tomorrow. The rain is expected to exterminate much of the subsurface heat; however, additional heat may still exist in deep pockets.

Dirt roads in the Horton Fire area are going to be unusually slick with all the rain. Please use extra caution when navigating these roads.

Fire managers are beginning to assess a rehabilitation plan for the Horton Fire area. To the extent possible, they want to return the landscape, that has been modified during firefighting operations, to its original state.

The Incident Command Post will move to the Blowing Rock Fire Department tonight to allow the Laurel Fork Baptist Church to hold their Wednesday night service. “Our team is incredibly grateful to the Laurel Fork Baptist Church for their support and welcome,” said Incident Commander Rodney Weeks.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (November 28, 2016-5:00 PM)

Firefighters spent today patrolling the Horton Fire area looking for heat. Local fire personnel will patrol the fire perimeter through the night with a thermal imager to identify any hot spots. “We want to ensure that the homes within and near the fire area are safe,” said Incident Commander Rodney Weeks. The Horton Fire is still at 85% contained and 1,450 acres.

Fire managers will wait until the forecasted rains arrive to reassess the containment percentage. Up to two inches of rain are expected in the next 24-48 hours. This much needed precipitation will likely exterminate much of the subsurface heat. Due to the drought conditions, additional heat may still exist if burning occurred in deep pockets.

The Incident Command Post will move to the Blowing Rock Fire Department on Tuesday evening, November 29, to allow the Laurel Fork Baptist Church to hold their Wednesday night service.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (November 28, 2016-8:30 AM)

Firefighters on the Horton Fire had a good night. Ample wind was received to test the fire lines. “A lot of great work on the ground is evident in the fire lines holding so well,” said Incident Commander Rodney Weeks.

More winds are expected tonight along with some much needed moisture. Incident objectives today continue to focus on safety for emergency responders and the public. The Horton Fire is 85% contained and at 1,450 acres.

The Incident Command Post will move to the Blowing Rock Fire Department on Tuesday evening, November 29, to allow the Laurel Fork Baptist Church to hold their Wednesday night service.


Horton Fire Press Release
Watauga County, NC (November 27, 2016-5:30 PM)

The Horton Fire is 85% contained at 1,450 acres. Firefighters had a productive day extinguishing hot spots inside the fire perimeter. The fire area received less wind than expected today allowing emergency responders to make significant progress. “Crews have done an exceptional job identifying hot spots and reinforcing the fire perimeter,” said Incident Commander Rodney Weeks.

Incident objectives tonight continue to focus on safety for emergency responders and the public. With less fire activity and volunteer firefighters returning to their regular jobs on Monday, there will be a reduction of fire personnel on the Horton fire. “The support and work ethic of emergency responders has really been outstanding,” said Incident Commander Weeks.

Smoke is expected to affect visibility Monday morning from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. Please avoid this area, and Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, for the safety of local residents and our firefighters.


Horton Fire Press Release

Watauga County, NC (November 27, 2016-8:30 AM)

Night shift worked hard through the cold night checking for heat. Although hot spots were detected 300’ feet inside the fire perimeter, the outside edges are looking good. A lot of solid work has gone into containing the fire perimeter.

Incident objectives today remain the same with a focus on safety for emergency responders and the public, while mitigating the threat of wind driven fire spread. Horton fire managers are still waiting to raise the containment percentage until the threat of wind gusts has passed. The potential for fire spread is high given the extremely dry conditions. Once fire managers can ensure the established fire lines will hold, they will reassess the 65% containment level.

The fire is still approximately 1,450 acres. There are close to 115 personnel, representing nearly 25 agencies assigned to the Horton fire. Neighboring volunteer fire departments have been crucial in containment efforts, as well as those traveling across the country to lend a hand.

The outpouring of support from the local community has also been outstanding. “We truly appreciate Laurel Fork Baptist Church and congregation for providing their church for our use, even cancelling their Sunday service. The support of this community is just incredible,” said Incident Commander Weeks.

Smoke is affecting visibility this morning from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. Please avoid this area, and Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway, for the safety of local residents and our firefighters.


A local family in the path of the fire shares their photos with WataugaOnline.com. See this link for more information.


Horton Fire Press Release

Watauga County, NC (November 26, 2016-7:00 PM)

Horton fire manages are waiting to raise the containment percentage of the fire until the threat of high winds has passed. Progress on the Horton fire is looking good, but with a forecast for up to 30 mph wind gusts, there is a high potential for fire spread given the extremely dry conditions. Once fire managers can ensure the established fire lines will hold against increased wind speeds, they will reassess the 65% containment level.

The fire is still approximately 1,450 acres. Nearly 125 personnel, representing approximately 25 agencies, are assigned to the Horton fire. The support of neighboring volunteer fire departments have been crucial in containment efforts.

Incident objectives for tonight are focused on emergency responder and public safety, while preparing for severe wind gusts. “It is critical that we keep the fire within the containment area, without exposing any of our responders to undue risk,” said Incident Commander Weeks. Night crews will continue patrol for hotspots along the north and southeast ends of the fire.

Smoke is expected to settle through the evening and early morning, continuing to affect visibility from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. The public is asked to avoid this area and Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway for the safety of firefighters and local residents.

Responders are humbled by the appreciation and support from the community. Even the simplest “thank you” has touched firefighters. Thank you for showing your support! For those wishing to donate any food or supplies, please consider a cash donation to the Red Cross instead.


Horton Fire Press Release

Watauga County, NC (November 26, 2016-8:30 AM)

As of 8:30 a.m., the Horton Fire remains at 65% contained and is approximately 1,450 acres. There are approximately 125 personnel representing approximately 25 agencies assigned to the Horton Fire. Fire personnel have responded from as far away as New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Idaho and Montana.

Incident objectives for today are focused on providing for firefighter and public safety, while protecting homes within and near the fire area. With forecasted wind gusts expected up to 30 mph through the weekend, fire crews are focusing on keeping the fire within the containment area between Reynolds Parkway, Dugger Fire Tower Road, and Sampson Road. Night patrol crews detected additional deep, hotspots flaring up along the north and southeast ends of the fire. Fire crews are focusing on extinguishing heat in these areas ahead of the wind.

Smoke is expected to settle through the evening and early morning, continuing to affect visibility from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. The public is asked to avoid this area and Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway to provide for the safety of firefighters and local residents.

The outpouring of support from the community has been appreciated. We are asking that anyone wishing to donate any food or supplies to please consider a cash donation to the Red Cross instead.


Watauga County, NC (November 25, 2016-7:30 PM)

As of 7:30 p.m., the Horton Fire remains at 65% contained and is approximately 1,450 acres. There are approximately 125 personnel representing approximately 25 agencies assigned to the Horton Fire. Fire personnel have responded from as far away as New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Idaho and Montana. The transition to Kevin Weeks’ Type 3 North Idaho Incident Management went smoothly. “The local fire leadership and firefighters have done an outstanding job here, and the community support has been incredible,” said Incident Commander Weeks.

Incident objectives are focused on providing for firefighter and public safety, while protecting homes within and near the fire area. Wind gusts up to 30 mph are expected through the weekend. Fire managers are actively preparing for the wind. Areas of concern are hotspots flaring up along the north end of the fire and the southeast end. Crews are mopping up those areas and monitoring them closely. Firefighters are patrolling the fire area through the night.

Smoke is expected to settle through the evening and early morning, significantly affecting visibility from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. The public is asked to avoid this area and Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway to provide for the safety of firefighters and local residents.

The Watauga County community has provided a phenomenal amount of donations for the firefighters. We are asking that anyone wishing to donate any food or supplies to please consider a cash donation to the Red Cross instead.


Air Quality To Improve For The High Country For Saturday Nov 26,2016. For more information visit this link.


Horton Fire 10am Press Release

Watauga County, NC (November 25, 2016-10:00 AM)

Command of the fire transitioned to Rodney Weeks’ Type 3 North Idaho Incident Management Team at 7:00 a.m. This transition provides a much needed break for local fire management and allows them to be available for any new fire starts.

The Horton Fire remains at 65% contained and is approximately 1,408 acres. Firefighters provided fire patrols throughout the night. Hot spots were detected south of the Reynolds Parkway on the north end of the fire. Crews are mopping up that area and monitoring it closely. Smoke is significantly affecting visibility from Watson Road up to the Dugger Fire Tower Road. This smoke is generated from fuels burning inside the fire area.

Wind gusts up to 30 mph are expected tonight through the weekend prompting a weather watch warning for the Horton Fire area. Fire managers are actively preparing for this wind event. Crews are mopping up hot spots and falling hazardous snags.

There are a number of homes within the area. Crews are maintaining structure protection. Sampson Road remains closed to the public at State View Road.The public is asked to avoid the Sampson Road area south of the Blue Ridge Parkway to provide safety for firefighters and local residents.

Local residents delivered traditional Thanksgiving meals to the firefighters yesterday afternoon and last night. Firefighters have felt very honored to serve this community and are very humbled by the hospitality shown by its residents.


Horton Fire 2pm Press Conference Thanksgiving Day.


Horton Fire Press Release

 

Watauga County, NC (November 24, 2016 – 9:00 AM).

Over 50 firefighters, law enforcement and emergency response personnel were active on the Horton Fire last night. Priority remained patrolling the fire area and the protection of homes particularly along Dugger Fire Tower Road. The fire is now approximately 1200 acres in size and remains at 65% contained. The fire is expected to grow to 1350-1500 acres within the established containment lines. No homes have been lost in this fire.

Minimal amounts of rain fell in and around the fire area overnight (300ths of an inch by one measurement near The Watauga Medical Center). The precipitation helped keep fire behavior low overnight but challenges continue today. Approximately 125 responders from multiple agencies will continue to work towards full containment of the fire. Fire fighting objectives today are to continue to protect homes in and around the fire and to increase and hold containment lines through the use of active patrols and further burn out operations if weather conditions are favorable.

Incident Commander Brent Triplett said that the fire fighters continue “making good headway in achieving our objectives. This is one of the most interagency teams that I have ever worked with. Teams have come from all over to work together. Thank you to all of the crews working today on Thanksgiving. We are very thankful for the wonderful community support and for the ongoing dedication of all of the responders and particularly to the many volunteer fire fighters how have been vital to this response.”

A Type III Incident Management Team will be arriving this morning to aid in the management of the fire. The IMT will complete transition briefings and then join the Unified Command in completing the objectives of containing and putting out the fire.

Sampson Road remains closed at State View Road. Members of the public who do not live in the area are asked to continue to avoid the area to allow fire response traffic safe access to the fire. The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office is patrolling the fire perimeter.

Three power polls located near Watson Drive and Sampson Road have been burned at the base. Bremco/Blue Ridge Electric utility crews will be working to replace those polls today.


Slideshow of photos from Wednesday Nov 23, 2016. Photos provided by Horton Fire Incident Command
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Air Attack

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Video of Horton Fire Air Attack provided by Kelly Redmon

Back burning operations. Video: Kelly Redmon


Code Red Air Quality Alert issued for Thanksgiving Day. Also a Public Health Advisory also issued for continued heavy smoke in the area.


Horton Fire 2pm Press Conference on Wednesday Nov 23, 2016. Video: Kenneth Reece


Horton Fire Press Release

Watauga County, NC (November 23, 2016 – 2:00 PM).

As of 2:00 PM 11/23/16 the Horton Fire is 65% contained and approximately 900 acres. 125 emergency response personnel from 26 agencies are actively responding. Fire crews have responded from as far away as New Jersey, Arizona, and Florida. Incident Commander Brent Triplett said, “It’s a very tough thing for first responders to be away from their homes and families around Thanksgiving, but our firefighters are a dedicated group of folks. We all just try to encourage each other as much as we can.”

The firefighting priorities are focused on protecting homes within and near the fire area. No structures have been burned and debris removal and burnout operations continue around homes. Burnout operations are being supported by multiple air resources. Two 800 gallon Single Engine Air Tankers along with a helicopter are supporting crews on the ground.

Weather conditions continue to be favorable for fire operations. If operations continue successfully full containment may be reached by Friday.

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office is patrolling the fire perimeter. Members of the public who do not live in the area are asked to avoid the area.

A smoke exposure public health advisory has been released and will be published at hortonfire.blogspot.com.

A great thank you to the Watauga County community for stepping up to provide donations for the firefighters. No additional donations are needed. The community is encouraged to donate to the Red Cross.


Video of smoky Thunder Hill Overlook. Video: Kenneth Reece

Support helicopter. Photo: Kenneth Reece

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Panoramic view from Thunder Hill Overlook of the smoke. Photo: Kenneth Reece

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Smoky at Thunder Hill Overlook. Photo: Kenneth Reece

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11:49am Wednesday Nov 23 – There’s been several questions regarding donations or drop-off points to help the firefighters with #HortonFire. According to fire officials they do not need donations from public at this time. Cash donations to Red Cross preferred. Thanks for all the aid provided!


A media briefing is scheduled for 2pm. Details from that event will be posted after it concludes.


UPDATE 9am Wednesday November 23, 2016 – As of 8:30 AM the Horton Fire remains at 20% contained and approximately 700-800 acres. The fire is expected to grow to approximately 1500 acres through the day but that growth remains inside the identified containment areas. Over 50 firefighters remained on the fire overnight to strengthen containment lines and to ensure protection for homes in the area.

There are no structures burned at this time and there are multiple fire crews assigned specifically for structure protection. There are a number of homes within the fire perimeter and approximately 55 homes threatened in the area of the fire. Yesterday and overnight burnout operations were safely completed around homes within the fire area. Crews will continue to use this strategy today to safely remove fuel around homes.

There are no new mandatory evacuations. Watson Drive remains under a mandatory evacuation order. The Red Cross continues to have a shelter open at Alliance Bible Church. No residents stayed at the shelter overnight. Evacuated homeowners may take pets to the Watauga Humane Society.

Members of the public who do not live in the area are asked to avoid the area of Sampson Road south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sampson road remains closed to the public at State View Road.


UPDATE – 6pm Tuesday Nov 22, 2016 – Officials with several different organizations held a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. Representatives from the Forest Service, Watauga County, Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross were on hand to give an update. Afterward members of the press were escorted to a vantage point to see the fire. The video and some photos are below. Written highlights from the press conference can be found below the photos posted.

Also at approximately 10:00 am today Watauga County Board of Commissioners declared a county state of emergency for the Horton Fire. The declaration frees up additional resources that can be used in response to the fire.

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Photos and video: Kenneth Reece

Smoke as seen from the entrance of Blue Ridge Mountain Club

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A map of the containment area

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As of 4:00 PM the Horton Fire was 20% contained and approximately 700-800 acres. Further fire growth is expected within the containment lines within the next 24 hours.

There was moderate growth in the fire throughout the day but weather conditions are favorable for maintaining and increasing containment around the fire tonight.

Fire fighters made good progress building and strengthening containment lines throughout the day. Approximately 100 firefighters from 19 different agencies are now involved in the response effort.

There are no structures burned at this time and there are multiple fire engines assigned specifically for structure protection near the fire lines.

The Red Cross continues to have a shelter open at Alliance Bible Church. Pets can be taken to Watauga Humane Society.


UPDATE 1:35pm Tuesday Nov 22, 2016 – Crews continue to work to contain the Horton Fire. Additional crews from Alexander, Avery, Catawba, and Wilkes county are assisting.  The objective currently is to establish containment around the wildfire. Work is being completed today to widen fire containment lines.

The fire is  burning in steep, heavily wooded areas but weather conditions this afternoon and evening are forecasted to be favorable, according to the @FireHorton twitter account.

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

A Red Cross shelter is open at Alliance Bible Fellowship church in Boone. Evacuees with pets may take pets to Watauga Humane Society.

Map showing approximate fire area provided by fire officials.  


 UPDATE  9am Tuesday November 22, 2016 – Firefighters and emergency response personnel from eight fire departments are actively fighting the Horton Fire. The fire began at approximately 7:00 PM Monday 11/21/16 near the intersection of Sampson Road and Penley Road. Multiple fire crews responded to the fire and have been battling it overnight.

As of 7:00 AM this morning the fire size was approximately 400 acres with zero containment. The fire is threatening 55 homes. Watson Drive has been evacuated and residents on Dugger Fire Tower Road and Flat Mountain Road should prepare for imminent mandatory evacuations.

A Twitter account has been set up to share information on the Horton Fire. Follow @FireHorton for updates.

Departments Responding

Fire Departments:

Watauga County

Boone, Blowing Rock, Deep Gap, Stewart Simmons, Meat Camp, Foscoe, Watauga Rescue

Caldwell County

Patterson, Yadkin Valley

North Carolina Fire Service

Watauga and Caldwell Emergency Management

Watauga County Sheriff’s Office

Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office

Red Cross


9:30pm Monday November 21 – Fire crews have switched to a radio frequency, that unless in the immediate fire area, is not able to be listen to by scanners at large. Updated information will be posted as it becomes available on Tuesday morning.

7:45pm Monday November 21, 2016 – Multiple fire departments have been dispatched to a large woods fire in the Sampson area of Watauga/Caldwell. Units from departments in both Watauga and Caldwell are responding to the scene.

More information as it becomes available.

Map below depicts the general location of the fire(s). Penley Road is being used as a reference point as it was mention in scanner traffic.

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