There are twenty-four large wildfires currently burning throughout the southern United States totaling more than 130,000 acres. The largest fires are the Rough Ridge Fire in Georgia (27,870 acres), the Rock Mountain Fire in Georgia and North Carolina (20,647 acres), and the Tellico Fire in North Carolina (13,874).
Sixteen incident management teams (nine type-1 and type-2 teams; seven type-3 teams) and 65 crews from across the country have deployed across the southern region to assist impacted communities. More than 80 aviation assets are committed to aid ground crews in the region with 30 of those assigned just to North Carolina.
More than 6,000 people (local, state and federal) have been assigned to all the fires in the Southern Area. This effort is complemented by the support of hundreds of volunteer firefighters and other emergency personnel. More than 2,200 of those assigned are on fires or other support assignments in North Carolina.
AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Smoke appears to be entering several areas on Sunday afternoon. Because of this, the Air Quality forecast has been downgraded to Code Orange for the Asheville area. Macon County has been downgraded to code purple.
Asheville is being impacted by the Pinnacle and Rock Mountain Fires. The Burnsville and Spruce Pine areas are being impacted by the Clear Creek Fire. And Macon County, and especially Franklin, are being impacted from smoke from the Rock Mountain Fire.
General Forecast Discussion: For tonight, high pressure will shift toward eastward toward the coast, and winds will increase out of the south to southeast. Smoke from the Rock Mountain, Camp Creek, and Pinnacle Fires is expected to continue drifting into the Asheville area, and Code Orange air quality is expected. Macon County, which has the most active fires, will likely have Code Red to Code Purple air quality through tonight. Smoke from the Clear Creek Fire will drift northward over parts of McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey Counties, where Code Orange air quality is also possible.
For tomorrow, high pressure will be situated off the coast while a cold front and strong upper disturbance push into the Southeast US. Southerly winds will increase throughout the day and will help bring in deep moisture into the mountains. Some showers may impact the mountains late, with the heavier rain holding off until tomorrow night and Tuesday. Smoke from the Rock Mountain and Camp Creek Fires in Macon County will affect Macon County and much of the Asheville area. Smoke from the Pinnacle Fire will impact the Hendersonville area and adjacent communities. Smoke from the Clear Creek Fire in McDowell County will blow northward toward Burnsville and Spruce Pine. Increased winds will help mix out the smoke, but Code Orange air quality is possible in all of these areas. Code Red or Purple air quality is possible in Macon County where fire activity is greatest.
Outlook: A cold front will approach the mountains during Monday night and Tuesday. Southerly winds will transport deep moisture into the mountains, and the mountains and neighboring foothills should see some widespread rains. This wetting rain should help extinguish any active wild fires and little to no impacts from smoke are expected. The deep south flow will bring in clean air from off the Atlantic and particle pollution will hover mostly in the Code Green range. Particle pollution may be in the Code Yellow range near and downwind of any remaining fires. The cold front will stall over the mountains Tuesday night and Wednesday and rain will become lighter and spottier with the loss of upper forcing. Another cold front with attendant upper forcing will push through Wednesday evening into Thursday morning with another round of widespread rain. Air quality will mostly hold within the Code Green range, though Code Yellow air quality is possible very close to any smoldering fires.
Weather:Special Weather Statement is effective from 11/27/2016, 9:34 A.M. through 11/29/2016, 7:00 A.M. for the following areas: Increased fire danger through early this evening for today into the early this evening. Another round of critically low relative humidity below 25% can be expected across the North Carolina Mountains and adjacent foothills. Relative humidity values across the mountain ridges will range between 10 to 20 percent. The weather conditions will combine with extremely dry fuels caused by the prolonged drought to produce favorable conditions for the rapid spread and growth of wildfires.
Areas Affected: Burke Mountains, Caldwell Mountains, Eastern McDowell, Eastern Polk, Greater Burke, Greater Caldwell, Greater Rutherford, Macon, McDowell Mountains, Polk Mountains, Rutherford Mountain, Southern Jackson
To find county-specific information, visit the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center: Watch, Warning, Advisory Display page. You can access the interactive map shown above at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/wwa/ or with this QR code.
With all the outpouring of support from communities, fire departments have been fully stocked. No additional supplies are needed at this time. In lieu of supplies, a fund has been set up through the Western NC Firefighters Association for folks wishing to donate monetarily. This fund will be used to provide grants to any western North Carolina fire department that has unmet needs, resulting from their wildland firefighting efforts. If you would like to support your local firefighters, donations can be sent to the following address:
Attention: Western North Carolina Firefighters Fund
Skyland Fire and Rescue Department
P.O. Box 640
Skyland, North Carolina, 28776
We cannot express our appreciation for the many donations and volunteer hours that have been dedicated to the fire suppression efforts. On behalf of all fire and support personnel, thank you.
TODAY'S UPDATES ON ACTIVE FIRES OR FIRE COMPLEXES
Only those fires being actively managed and staffed are included in the Evening Summary.
NOTE: Significant burnout operations on Camp Branch and Rock Mountain may have resulted in lots of smoke east of these fires.
HORTON FIRE (NCFS - BLOWING ROCK, WATAUGA COUNTY)
It has been a calm day and the fire perimeter is looking good. There will be an update posted to the Horton Fire blog at 7:00 P.M.
Acreage: 1,450 - Containment: 65% - Personnel: 115 - Start Date: November 21
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS - MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
Firefighters completed mop up in the Locust Cove area. Along the central portion of the southern border, two handcrews were able to put in direct handline starting near the head of the fire in the area of Clear Creek to hold the fire in place. This effort was supported by the use of a helicopter.
Hwy NC 80 and Clear Creek Roads will open night at 8:00 P.M. to the public.
Acreage: 3,155 - Containment: 40% - Personnel: 489 - Start Date: November 20
BOTELER FIRE (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)
Today, heavy-equipment suppression repair efforts are continued for all of Nelson Ridge, the interior dozer line near High Meadows, and a stretch of fireline running south from High Meadows to Cold Branch Drive. All handline repair has been completed on the west, northwest, and northeast sides of the fire. Firefighters continued mopping up and patrolling containment lines, focusing on firelines running from Tate Gap east to Thunderstruck Brook, southeast to Buck Creek, and then west to Perry Gap. They worked to complete as much fire-suppression repairs as possible prior to the forecasted rains.
For current road closures in Macon County CLICK HERE
Acreage: 9,036- Containment: 85% - Personnel: 185 - Start Date: October 25
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Yesterday's infrared flight identified six areas of heat within the perimeter. Firefighters continued to patrol, monitor and secure the fire's perimeter. Crews are striving to finish the remaining 25 percent of suppression repairs prior to expected rains late tomorrowand Tuesday.
Where the fire burned within the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area, scooper planes dropped water on the fire's edge, creating a wet line. Along with natural barriers, the wet line has been a substitute for hand- or dozer-constructed fireline. Because firefighters are unable to patrol the wet line on foot, fire managers are being conservative when considering this area contained even though the fire is not advancing and growing. As aerial observers monitor the wet line daily and confirm that the line is holding, containment will gradually increase.
Acreage: 7,788 - Containment: 78% - Personnel: 69 - Start Date: November 4
NANTAHALA BRANCH FIRES (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team is assigned management of the Nantahala Branch Fires. Under this branch, the fires being patrolled/monitored are: Tellico Fire, Old Roughy Fire, Buck Creek Fire, Falls Fire, Grape Cove Fire, Moses Creek Fire, Jones Gap Fire, Jarrett Knob Fire, Wine Spring Fire, Mulberry Fire, Moss Knob Fire, May Branch Fire, Boardtree Fire, Charley Creek Fire, Nick Fire, Ridge Gap Fire, Ferebee Fire, Cliffside Fire, Whitewater Fire, Howard Gap Fire, Knob Fire, Muskrat Fire, Bullpen Fire, Jones Creek Fire, Cathey Gap Fire, Dick's Creek Fire.
CAMP BRANCH FIRE (USFS - OTTO, MACON COUNTY)The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Today, crews monitored yesterday's firing operation on the west side along FR 68 and in Crawford Cove. They initiated a new firing operation north of Wayah Bald along the Appalachian Trail east of Little Laurel Creek to stop the westward, upslope advance of the spot fire. Crews strengthened and secured firelines on the east side along Locust Tree Branch Road and monitored yesterday's firing operation in the Trimont Ridge area on the northeast side of the fire.
Acreage: 1,483 - Containment: 35% - Personnel: 113 Start Date: November 23
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Resource demobilizations have started taking place. The hard work done by the fire crews has allowed for the fire management to be turned over to the local North Carolina Forest Service district. Agency transfer is expected sometime tomorrow 11/28/16.
Acreage: 7,171 - Containment: 85% - Personnel: 209 - Start Date: November 5
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS - SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Building on yesterday's success, resources continued to use strategic burnout operations to secure fireline from Standing Indian Campground south and east towards Indian Ridge, and east of the Appalachian Trail towards Lonely Gap and Rockhouse Knob. A helicopter equipped with a device that dispenses spheres of a chemical oxidizing agent injected with glycol, initiated burnout in unburnt pockets of forested areas. Left unburnt, this could pose a threat to the containment lines in the area surrounding Betty's Creek, Little Ridgepole Mountain and Brushy Ridge.
All evacuations are still in place; to see the latest road closures, pre-evacuation and evacuation updates, CLICK HERE.
Acreage: 20,647 - Containment: 40% - Personnel: 511 - Start Date: November 9
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Firefighters are monitoring two open reburns, approximately 21 acres, within the fire interior. Smoke may be visible, but there is no threat of fire spread. Suppression repairs were started on some of the interior lines.
Acreage: 6,435 - Containment: 80% - Personnel: 144 - Start Date: November 6
PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS - PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)
Burnout operations were completed southward toward the Table Rock Reservoir.Table Rock State Park and the trail system remain closed; it is expected to be open Monday 11/28/16 at noon. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Media Advisory: For all information about the Pinnacle Mountain Fire and the ongoing response in South Carolina, all media should contact the Pinnacle Mountain Joint Information Center at (864) 898-2437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acreage: 9,566- Containment: 47% - Personnel: 255 - Start Date: November 9
FOREST AND TRAIL CLOSURES
Nantahala National Forest Closures
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests (relative to the ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE)
Appalachian Trail (A.T.)
Feel free to share any post from the WKRK website that you feel is beneficial to your community. We encourage input from local law enforcement, government officials, emergency management officials, schools and other public service organizations. To send us information, use the form on our Contact Us page.