Wildfires In McDowell County Continue To Burn, Increase To Over 1000 Acres

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Two wildfires in McDowell County continue to burn and officials believe it will be sometime before the fires are out, due to rough terrain and the lack of rain.

On Wednesday (Aug 5, 2015) smoke pushed into the High Country, and continued to linger into Thursday. Due to the smoke an Air Quality Alert for Watauga & Avery was issued. To see previous updates on both fires see this article.

Information from US Forest Service:

The Bald Knob Fire received almost 2 inches of rain on Thursday night. There is very little smoke production from the fire. Wolf Creek fire also received rain and is producing very little smoke. However, both fires are still active and small smoke was observed Friday afternoon and is expected to increase through the weekend.

Bald Knob Fire – Saturday August 8 Update

The Bald Knob fire, burning on Pisgah National Forest land in McDowell County north of Marion, NC, is now estimated at 897 acres. Improved mapping as smoke lifted from the area allowed fire officials to accurately map the perimeter of the fire yesterday, leading to the increase in acreage.The Bald Knob fire was reported on July 17th in a remote area near Dobson Knob, north of Lake James. High wind on Wednesday afternoon increased fire activity ahead of the cold front that brought rain to the region Thursday. Close to 1 inch of rain was reported on the fire, stalling its progress yesterday but not extinguishing the flames. As dry weather returns to the area this weekend and next week, officials expect the fire to continue to grow in size.Air quality improved yesterday and will likely remain good to moderate over the weekend. Communities near the fire, especially around Marion, Nebo, Lake James and Glen Alpine, NC, may experience some smoke in the mornings and evenings.

The US Forest Service is using a “confine and contain” strategy to manage the Bald Knob fire for multiple objectives. Officials are managing risk for firefighter safety due to limited access in the rough terrain around Bald Knob and high fuel loading in the area. Firefighters are actively constructing fire lines on the west side, as well as scouting for additional containment lines. 60 Firefighters, 4 bulldozers, 1 engine, and 2 helicopters are assigned to the Bald Knob fire. 1 Helicopter is being used between the Bald Knob and Wolf Creek fires.

Firefighters continue to update the fire information boards at the Woodlawn Roadside Park area off of State Highway 221, and have set up fire information boards at the Woodlawn Volunteer Fire Department, and Black Bear Access area on Lake James. More information about the fire can be found online at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4457/.

A temporary closure of a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail between the footbridge over the North Fork of the Catawba River and Dobson Knob Road (Forest Service Road 106) remains in place.

The cause of the fire was likely lightning though the ignition source remains unconfirmed. Cooperating agencies include the North Carolina Forest Service, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, McDowell County Emergency Management, and The Nature Conservancy.

 

Bald Knob Fire – August 7 Update

50 Firefighters, 2 bulldozers and 1 engine are assigned to the Bald Knob fire. 1 Helicopter is being used between the Bald Knob and Wolf Creek fires. Estimated Acres burned and contained: · 520 acres- Firefighters are working on containment lines.

Threats/Concerns: · Cloudy conditions Thursday caused smoke to settle over the area. Communities near the fire, especially around Marion, Nebo, Lake James and Glen Alpine, NC, may experience ground-level smoke. The public can expect to see smoke from this fire for several weeks due to drought conditions in the area. ·

High wind on Wednesday afternoon increased fire activity ahead of the cold front entering the area yesterday. Isolated thunderstorms near the fire produced strong downdrafts but no precipitation for the Bald Knob fire, pushing smoke to the north-northwest towards Boone, NC. · Officials are managing risk for firefighter and public safety due to limited access in the rough terrain around Bald Knob and high fuel loading in the area. Closures: · A temporary closure of a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail between the footbridge over the North Fork of the Catawba River and Dobson Knob Road (Forest Service Road 106) remains in place. Remarks: · The cause of the fire was likely lightning though the ignition source remains unconfirmed. Cooperating agencies include the North Carolina Forest Service, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, McDowell County Emergency Management, and The Nature Conservancy.

Wolf Creek Fire – August 6 Update

Firefighters continue to make progress on the Wolf Creek wildfire burning on the Pisgah National Forest in McDowell County. The fire is now at 230 acres and is 40% contained. Fire activity has slowed as higher humidity moved back into the area today.

The Wolf Creek fire is located northwest of Old Fort, NC in steep terrain between Heartbreak Ridge and Jarrett Creek. Firefighters are completing burn out operations within containment lines, and are starting mop up operations to put out remaining hot-spots near fire lines.

Members of the public can expect to continue to see smoke in the Old Fort area and along Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 70. Travelers along I-40 between Ridgecrest and Marion, NC should use caution as smoke may settle along the highway this evening. The N.C. Department of Transportation has installed signs on I-40 westbound near Exit 81 and eastbound near Exit 66 warning travelers of the potential for smoke. Officials expect the fire to continue to grow within containment lines until the area receives significant rainfall.

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