*Note – Drift smoke from the fire on Friday was visible in the High Country. For more information see this link.*
NEBO, N.C., March 24, 2017- Firefighters completed burn out operations on the west side of the fire today, increasing containment to 90%. The fire is now estimated at 5,538 acres. No additional growth is expected. 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.
Fire activity on the west side of Shortoff Mountain increased today, prompting fire managers to conduct burnout operations to reduce fire intensity and minimize damage to soil resources. Low intensity backburns limited high intensity uphill runs. On the eastern and southern control lines, firefighters are also focusing on extinguishing remaining hot-spots.
Firefighters will monitor and patrol the fire over the weekend, as well as work on fireline repair. Fire managers are transitioning control of the fire back to the local type 4 incident management organization tomorrow morning. The fire is expected to remain active within containment lines until a significant rain event. A weather system is predicted for Sunday that could provide much needed precipitation over the area.
Smoke may impact areas around Lake James and Oak Hill this evening and tomorrow morning. Smoke may settle in low-lying areas overnight. Travelers along Highway 181 between Oak Hill and Linville Falls should expect to see smoke in the area. Smoke may continue to impact the area throughout the weekend.
An area closure remains 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.
67 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. Law enforcement officials determined lightning to be the likely cause of the fire.
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.