NEBO, NC, February 1, 2017- Crews are completing fireline construction on the Sugar Cove fire in preparation for burnouts this afternoon. The fire experienced moderate growth yesterday, increasing to 220 acres with 20 percent containment.
If conditions allow, crews will conduct burnout operations later today to remove fuels between the active fire and the fire lines. Fire managers take in to account weather, smoke, and safety information before starting burnouts. Burnout operations are used to control fire spread and increase containment.
Smoke may increase in the area this afternoon and overnight. Areas around Marion and Pleasant Gardens could potentially see heavy smoke settling in valleys and low-lying areas overnight and in the early morning, especially along NC-80, US-70 and US-221N. Smoke may also impact areas to the north, including Spruce Pine. Travelers should use caution when driving in smoke – use headlights and increase following distances. A front moving into the area tomorrow morning is predicted to clear any remaining smoke by mid-day Thursday.
In order to protect public and firefighter safety, NC Highway 80 remains temporarily closed to all but local traffic from Buck Creek Gap off the Blue Ridge Parkway to Little Buck Road near Lake Tahoma. Fire crews are using portions of this road as a fire line. The Woods Mountain Trail (TR 218) is also closed. This trail closure includes the portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to US-221.
The fire is burning northeast of NC Highway 80 in the Singecat Branch and Burgins Creek drainage. Both U.S. Forest Service and NC Forest Service resources are working under a unified command Incident Management Team with approximately 133 personnel including local volunteer fire departments from McDowell County and McDowell County Emergency Management. Structure protection is in place for homes and buildings on the south end of the fire area. No structures are currently threatened.
The fire began on private land on Saturday, January 28, at approximately 1 pm and resulted from a brush burn pile that escaped and burned onto the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest. The public is encouraged to use extreme caution with outdoor fires. Western North Carolina continues to be abnormally dry despite recent rain and snow. For tips on protecting your property, visit www.ncfirewise.org.