NEBO, N.C., March 22, 2017- Burnout operations were conducted on the south end of the White Creek Fire this afternoon with the objective of securing private property. The fire, which was reported Thursday March 16th, is burning near Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is now estimated at 2,750 acres and 50% contained.
The fire continues to burn within the containment lines. Atmospheric conditions this afternoon are causing smoke to lift upward before dispersing, instead of settling at ground level. This causes the smoke plume to be much more visible this evening. Smoke may impact areas close to the fire overnight.
Passing storms yesterday evening provided no measurable rainfall on the fire. The storms did produce lightning else ware in surrounding area, prompting firefighters to respond to multiple new ignitions which were extinguished at small acreages.
Tomorrow, firefighters will patrol and monitor the fire area, as well as work to extinguish any hot spots near fire lines. Minor burnout operations may occur.
154 firefighters are currently on scene. The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with support from the North Carolina Forest Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Burke and McDowell County Emergency Management, North Carolina Emergency Management, and local volunteer fire departments.
An area closure is in effect for all U.S. Forest Service lands east of State Road 1238 (Old NC 105 / Kistler Memorial Highway), south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), south of Table Rock Picnic Area, west of Back Irish Creek Forest Service Road #118 (Blue Gravel Road) and Roses Creek Forest Service Road #99, north of Highway 126. In addition, the following trails are closed: Shortoff Trail (Tr #235), Rock Jock Trail (Tr #247), Pinch-In Trail (Tr #228), Linville Gorge Trail (Tr #231) south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), Mountains to Sea Trail (Tr #440) from State Road 1238 at Pinnacles to the Table Rock Picnic Area, and any social trails existing within the closure area. Public entry is prohibited within this area.
Law enforcement officials determined lightning to be the likely cause of the fire. Yesterday's release reported a lightning strike near the area on March 6th. That information has been corrected to March 1st.
Remember: Flying a drone near a wildfire is breaking the law. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. So, be smart and just don't fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire.