Some mountain wildfires now contained
Rifle hunting season began today in western North Carolina.
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 call 1-800-662-7137 or visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/
Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a.k.a. “drones,” should never be flown over or near a wildfire. Unauthorized drone flights over or near a wildfire could cause serious injury or death to firefighters in the air and/or firefighters and members of the public on the ground. Firefighting aircraft — such as air attack aircraft, lead planes, airtankers and helicopters — typically fly in smoky, windy and turbulent conditions. Safety depends on knowing what other aircraft are operating in the airspace and where they are at all times… If drones fly, critical air support over wildfires cannot.
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).
A reconnaissance flight on Monday found no smoke on the Maple Springs fire and an evening infrared flight revealed only a half dozen small areas of heat, all well within established containment lines.
A total of nine fires are burning in the mountains, covering 57,371 acres. Containment is increasing in most of the fires. Still 2,800 firefighters and personnel are involved in the entire operation.
Acreage on the Maple Springs fire remains at an estimated 7,788 acres and containment is unchanged at 69 percent. The only uncontained line on the fire is in the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. Size and containment on the Old Roughy fire remains at an estimated 657 acres and 100 percent containment.
As fire activity wanes, so too does the number of personnel and resources assigned to the two fires. The total personnel assigned to these fires Tuesday morning stood at 276.
High pressure will move into the Carolinas today, keeping sunny, cool and dry conditions overhead. Additionally, low-level winds — which have been blowing from the northwest in recent days — will become light and variable and then steady out of the south and southwest.
Because of this shift in winds, smoke from the Clear Creek fire in McDowell County, the Pinnacle fire in far-upstate South Carolina, and the Rock Ridge fire on the North Carolina/Georgia state line will begin to drift towards the north and northeast.
Code Red conditions, indicating unhealthy air quality for everyone, will be possible near and downwind of these fires. This includes the Asheville forecast region as well as Macon and McDowell counties.
Within the Asheville forecast region, the main Code Red concerns will be over the southern and central portions of the region including Transylvania, Henderson, Jackson and possibly Haywood and Buncombe counties; Code Orange conditions will be likely over the remainder of the region.
Code Orange conditions will be possible over the Hickory forecast region, as well as for a number of counties along the North Carolina mountains, with Code Yellow conditions possible over Cherokee and Graham counties, the northern Foothills and over the northern/western portions of the Charlotte forecast region. Elsewhere, Code Green to low-end Code Yellow conditions are expected over the rest of the state.
A fireline explosive crew completed a blasting operation on Monday by removing three hazard trees along an access road leading into the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. The trees were identified as safety hazards for firefighters and blasting them with explosives is a safer and more natural method than cutting them down with chainsaws. Blasting the trees also aligns with the U.S. Forest Service’s policy prohibiting the use of mechanized equipment in a wilderness area.
Firefighters are mopping up and patrolling fire lines on both the Maple Springs and Old Roughy fires. Crews have started rehabilitating dozer lines, helispot bases and other areas where suppression actions have disturbed the landscape. Seeding of those areas will begin today to help reduce the potential for erosion due to rainfall and runoff.
Other fires continue to burn in:
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – PLEASANT GARDENS AREA, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
TELLICO FIRE (USFS-NANTAHALA GORGE AREA, SWAIN AND MACON COUNTIES)
CATHY GAP FIRE (USFS – JACKSON/TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY LINE)
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
DOBSON 3 FIRE (BIA-QUALLA BOUNDARY, JACKSON COUNTY)
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
A U.S. Forest Service closure order remains in effect for the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and roads leading into the area.