November 16, 2016 3:00 p.m.
Representatives from the Southern Area Incident Management Team will provide an update on the current fire situation and answer questions at a community meeting tomorrow, Thursday, November 17, at 7 p.m. at First Freewill Baptist Church in Hayesville (259 Tusquittee Road).
23 crews, 68 engines, 6 helicopters, 2 fixed wing, 16 dozers, 4 water tenders, 933 total personnel, 24,708 total acres
Boteler Fire (Clay County)
Firefighters had a solid day of firefighting yesterday and took advantage of cool weather and light winds. More people and equipment were assigned to the northeast corner of the fire off Buck Creek Road. Crews set up hoselays to extinguish small pockets of active fire south of Thunderstruck Road.
On the west side of the fire between Highway 64 and Tusquittee Road, firefighters patrolled and strengthened control lines. Along Nelson Ridge Road, the blasting crew safely felled thirty hazard trees. In Hayesville, shortly after this morning's briefing nearly 600 local schoolchildren cheered on
firefighters as they headed out to their assignments. A video of the event has been posted on the BotelerFire Facebook page.
Crews will hold and patrol containment lines on the southwest and northeast corners of the fire. Dozer operators have nearly completed a secondary fireline between Chunky Gal Trail and Buck Creek Road and will work in that area again today. The blasting crew will remove more hazard trees along Nelson Ridge Road. All safety precautions are being followed.
Acreage: 8,975 (8-ac increase due to improved mapping)
Containment: 51 percent Start Date: October 25
Tellico Fire (Swain and Macon Counties)
Containment is steadily increasing each day, but many miles of fireline need to be held, strengthened, and mopped up. Incident Commander Mike Dueitt told the firefighters assembled at the morning operations briefing, "[Mopping up] is not very glamorous, but it's some of the most important work you do." Reburn remains a concern in areas where pockets of heat remain inside the perimeter-mainly on the east side near Loudermilk Creek and on the west side north and west of Lowing Bald. Crews will focus their mop-up efforts in those areas; on uncontained fireline on the east side along Needmore Road and the Little Tennessee River; and on the southeast side along Queens Creek, Partridge Creek Road, and Deweese Road. Although US Highway 19/74 is open, firefighters will continue to monitor it for fire, rolling rocks, and falling trees that could impact the roadway and public safety.
Acreage: 13,679 (168-ac increase due to improved mapping)
Containment: 74 percent Start Date: November 3
Dick's Creek Fire (Jackson County), Muskrat Valley Fire, and Knob Fire (Macon County)
Firefighters are maintaining a presence at the Dick's Creek and Muskrat Fires despite them being 95 percent contained because the extremely dry, freshly fallen leaves inside the containment lines are reburning every day. Crews are walking the perimeter to blow leaves off the firelines. It is critical work but very time consuming. No additional perimeter growth is expected. The Knob Fire is in patrol status today (see below).
Muskrat: Acreage: 103 Containment: 95 percent Start Date:November 11
Knob: Acreage: 1,130 Containment: 98 percent Start Date:November 2
Dick's Creek Acreage: 728 Containment: 95 percent Start Date:October 23
Initial Attack and Fires in Patrol Status
An initial attack crew responded to a fire start yesterday-the Bullpen Fire-south of Highlands on Bullpen Road. Firefighters worked through the night to suppress it and are holding currently at approximately 5 acres. Crews from the Knob and Whitewater Fires are being reassigned to work on the Bullpen Fire today.
The following fires are being patrolled daily to ensure containment lines are holding: Buck Creek Fire (8 ac.), Falls Fire (NA), Grape Cove Fire (35 ac.), Moses Creek Fire (30 ac.), Jones Gap Fire (115 ac.), Jarrett Knob Fire (NA), Wine Spring Fire (95 ac.), Mulberry Fire (NA), Moss Knob Fire (7 ac.), May Branch Fire (175 ac.), Boardtree Fire (0.5 ac.), Charley Creek Fire (3 ac.), Ridge Gap (2 ac.), Cliffside Fire (101 ac.), Whitewater Fire (23 ac.), and Howard Gap (0.5 ac.).
Weather and Fire Behavior
Today will be warmer and drier than yesterday, with the temperature expected to reach the high 60s and the minimum relative humidity potentially dropping to the low 30s. A dry cold front moving into the region will reinforce northwest winds, which could produce gusts up to 15 mph. Fire behavior could increase where winds align with the terrain. Spotting from reburning leaf litter and rolling debris are a concern on active fires and make initial-attack fires more difficult to contain.
Road and Trail Closures
The National Forests in North Carolina is investigating these fires for suspicion of arson. Call 828-257-4200 if you have information about people setting or bragging about setting fires. If you see someone starting a fire, call 911.
Joint Information Center
A joint information center opened in Asheville on Monday to distribute information on evacuations, road and trail closures, air quality, burning restrictions, and public-meeting schedules for all wildfires currently burning in western North Carolina. The office is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 828-575-2840, or go to http://ncjic.blogspot.com/
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