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Firefighters are working to contain the Wolf Creek wildfire burning on the Pisgah National Forest in McDowell County. With dry conditions and low humidity, the fire grew Sunday afternoon and Monday morning and is now estimated at 75 acres and 30 percent contained. The Wolf Creek fire is located northwest of Old Fort, NC in steep terrain between Heartbreak Ridge and Jarrett Creek.
Firefighters completed containment lines on the south and west sides of the fire and are currently conducting burn-out operations. Crews are using low-intensity fire within the containment lines to reduce fuels in between the fire lines and the wildfire edge. Firefighters are also continuing to monitor the fire line along Jarrett Creek.
Members of the public can expect to see increased smoke today 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 NCDOT has installed signs on I-40 westbound near Exit 81 and eastbound near Exit 66 warning travelers of the potential for smoke. With no significant rain forecasted over the next several days, officials expect the fire to continue to grow within containment lines.
Heartbreak Ridge Trail (208) and Star Gap Trail (209) remain closed to public use and will be in effect until further notice. Jarret Creek Road (FS4030) is also closed to public use. Forest Service officials are asking the public to avoid this area for their own safety and the safety of emergency response personnel on scene.
Minimizing risk for firefighters, local communities, and the public are primary objectives. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and N.C. Forest Service (NCFS) are managing the fire jointly with resources from both agencies and support from McDowell County Emergency Management Services. 35 firefighters, a dozer, two engines, a helicopter, and a NCFS plane are assigned to the incident. The cause of the fire is still under investigation though firefighters believe ignition was likely caused by lightening from recent strong thunder storms.
Photo: North Carolina Forest Service