Western NC Wildfire Summary Sunday, November 20, 2016

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Editor’s Note – This update does not include information from the wildfire that broke out in Ashe County on Sunday that local fire departments are working on. For more information on that fire see this link. 

Information provided by North Carolina Forest Service.

CURRENT SITUATION
Dry conditions will continue into the middle of the week. A ridge of high pressure will move across the state on Tuesday, bringing lighter winds to the state before winds increase out of the southwest on Wednesday in advance of an incoming cold front. With no relief in the form of rainfall during midweek, wildfire-generated smoke and correspondingly unhealthy air quality will continue to be a problem across western and possibly central portions of North Carolina through the end of midweek, while generally good air quality should remain in place across eastern portions of the state.

AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Localized Code Orange conditions are likely being observed downwind of developing fires in McDowell and Ashe counties, including localized effects in neighboring Wilkes, Rutherford and Cleveland counties. Lower particle pollution concentrations in the Code Yellow or Code Green ranges are otherwise being observed over the rest of the state today. For a display of the most recent air quality conditions throughout the remainder of this afternoon, please visit the US EPA’s AIRNOW web site.

ARSON REPORTING
North Carolina is offering a reward of up to $10,000 to be issued to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible for setting wildfires in western North Carolina. Anyone having information concerning these wildfires should contact Macon County Crimestoppers at (828) 349-2600 or Jackson County Crimestoppers at (828) 631-1125.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is seeking information regarding arson fires on Indian Lands of North Carolina through the WeTip Program. Up to $10,000 is being offered through this anonymous program. WeTip can be contacted through their website: www.wetip.com or by calling their hotline at (800) 47-ARSON ((800) 472-7766).

BURNING RESTRICTIONS
A total fire ban is in effect for all lands in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests; however, commercially available heating equipment, portable lanterns, or stoves that use gas or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed. More information is at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?cid=fseprd524246.

A North Carolina Forest Service ban on all open burning in all 25 Western NC counties is still in effect. Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued. The issuance of any new permits also has been suspended until the ban is lifted.

HUNTER INFORMATION
Rifle hunting season begins Monday in Western NC. For those hunting in the National Forests, many areas have temporary Forest closures. Contact your local ranger district to find specific information about closures, as closures may not be clear if traveling off roads and trails. To ensure your safety and the safety of our firefighters, please observe all closures and fire restrictions. For updated hunting closure information visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Where-to-Hunt/Public-Places

DONATION CONTACT INFORMATION
Many of the counties continue to receive donations for individual fires. To donate to an area fire near you, go to http://ncjic.blogspot.com/p/donations.html

The Western North Carolina Firefighters Association has created a monetary fund to help local Fire Departments recover from the Wildfires that effected Western North Carolina.
Contributions can be mailed to:
Attention: Western North Carolina Firefighters’ Fund
Skyland Fire and Rescue Department
P.O. Box 640
Skyland, North Carolina, 28776
828-684-6421

TODAY’S UPDATES ON MAJOR AREA FIRES
For more information visit: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/34/

CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – PLEASANT GARDEN, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
Local, regional, state and federal crews continue to work the Clear Creek fire in Pleasant Garden. Eastern Montana IMT Type 2 Team will assume command tomorrow 11/21/16. No evacuations have been necessary thus far. Emergency crews continue to keep residents in that area abreast of the situation.
Acreage: 150 – Start Date: November 20

PINEY MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – CURTIS CREEK, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
The U.S. Forest Service has taken control of the Piney Mountain fire off Curtis Creek Road in Old Fort. No evacuations have been necessary thus far.
Acreage: 56 – Start Date: November 20

MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
A blasting team was brought in to mitigate hazard trees in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Fire managers identified approximately two dozen dead hemlock trees that posed a safety hazard for firefighters working in the wilderness area and blasting was determined to be the safest and most environmentally friendly way to remove them. In addition, blasting the trees gives a more natural appearance than cutting them down with chainsaws. The blasting team conducted a successful test operation on Saturday afternoon and blasting operations were expected to be completed today. Work on both fires now consists primarily of patrolling and mopping up containment lines.
Acreage: 7,788 – Containment: 51% – Personnel: 315 – Start Date: November 4

Tellico Fire (USFS-NANTAHALA GORGE AREA, Swain and Macon Counties)
Minimal creeping and smoldering fire behavior was observed on the fire today. An infrared flight conducted Saturday evening showed isolated hot spots within the interior of the fire. Leaf fall continues to be a concern as it accumulates in the burned area and on containment lines.
Firefighters will continue to strengthen contaminant lines, provide structure protection as needed and keep fire lines free of leaf litter. Preparation is underway for suppression repair operations that will serve to minimize the impact of fire suppression activities on the unburned sections of the forest, adjacent to the burn area.
Acreage: 13,874 – Containment: 90% – Personnel: 260- Start Date: November 3

Boteler Fire (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, Clay County)
Gusty winds and low humidity will test fire lines this evening. Firefighters will monitor and respond to any threats to the containment line. Leaf fall continues to challenge containment efforts by covering firelines causing reburn. Planned actions include patrolling and monitoring existing fire lines. Hot spots detected by infrared over flights east of East Vineyard will be closely monitored. Firefighters are prepared to respond to any new fires in the area
Acreage: 9,015- Containment: 72% – Personnel: 391 – Start Date: October 25

CATHY GAP FIRE (USFS – JACKSON/TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY LINE)
Based on completed containment actions and available staffing, no fire spread is anticipated. Risk should be reduced as the cold front moves past the area and wind speeds moderate. Fire crews will strengthen containment lines and provide structure protection where needed. Increased wind speeds will result in a heavier leaf fall. These leaves will accumulate, and add to the potential for re-burn inside the fire area. Crews will patrol and clear leaves from containment lines.
Acreage: 123 – Containment: 85% – Personnel: 53 – Start Date: November 17

PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Strong winds tested containment lines on the Party Rock Fire Saturday and through the night into Sunday morning, but fire managers report there was no fire growth outside those lines. Continued windy conditions and low humidity kept firefighters on their toes again today. No new evacuation warnings have been issued but residents near the fire are asked to remain vigilant. Residents and business owners are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts through their county or local government websites.
Acreage: 7,171 – Containment: 36% – Personnel: 907 – Start Date: November 5

CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Crews are patrolling and monitoring the fire perimeter. Firefighters have noticed active re-burn within the burn area where leaves have fallen.
Acreage: 6,424- Containment: 40% – Personnel: 330 – Start Date: November 6

ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Fire crews continue structure protection and perimeter control. Continue scouting and identifying opportunities to be successful with reaching containment objectives. Continue strategic planning and developing contingencies.
Acreage: 11,287- Containment: 30% – Personnel: 498- Start Date: November 9

EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES
For current information on NCDOT closures please visit:
https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/

PARTY ROCK FIRE Pre-evacuations:
County officials and fire managers have issued a pre-evacuation notice for residents living in areas and communities east of the Party Rock Fire. This precautionary action is being taken because of the potential for further fire growth to the northeast, east, and southeast due to predicted high winds. Residents of Riverbend Highlands, Buffalo Creek Road, Three Creeks, Tatanka, Apple Valley, Shumont Estates, and Buffalo Shoals Road north of Moffitt Road are included in this pre-evacuation notice. Residents that received the notice need to be prepared accordingly and be situationally aware. For information on how to prepare for an evacuation, visit
http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/

NANTAHALA NATIONAL FOREST CLOSURES
Major closures on the Nantahala include:
Southern Nantahala Wilderness (North Carolina)
Nantahala National Forest lands east of Eagle Fork community to Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary
Nantahala National Forest lands south of US 64 and Allison Creek Road (SR 1448), to the Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary (including the Standing Indian and Hurricane Creek areas)
Nantahala National Forest lands west of the Nantahala Mountains ridge from Mooney Gap to Wallace Gap, and west to the Southern Nantahala Wilderness boundary (including the Appalachian Trail, side trails, and shelter sites)
Nantahala National Forest lands north of US64 and east of State Road 1330 to Nantahala Ranger District boundary
Nantahala National Forest lands south and east of State Road 1307 from State Road 1330 to US64 and the Nantahala Ranger District Boundary
Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness
Wesser Creek Trail
Chunky Gal Trail
Whitewater Falls Trail and portions of Foothills Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail east of Beech Gap
Appalachian Trail in Nantahala National Forest

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