"Happy Thanksgiving," a sentiment that over 6,000 firefighters, representing all 50 states, heard at briefing this morning throughout the South. Digging line, laying fire hose, burnout operations, engine and aviation operations, dispatching personnel from across the nation, and securing containment lines, were activities that replaced traditional celebrations that most would have had with family. Across North Carolina, fire crews expressed thanks and gratitude to all the many people and communities who have taken time out to help cook and serving food, send well wishes, and remember them for their efforts to them over the holiday.
AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
Smoke from numerous wildfires will continue to bring Code Orange to Code Red air quality to Western North Carolina tonight and Friday. Meteorological conditions will be favorable for smoke to contribute to dense fog or super fog for roads near any active or smoldering wildfires in western North Carolina and northern Georgia (including the Chestnut Ridge Wildfire).
General Forecast Discussion: Tonight, the boundary layer will crash again and winds will become light. Residual moisture near the surface will aid in fog formation, and very dense fog is possible closer to the fire locations. Smoke will spread out and drift toward the northeast. Code Orange and Code Red air quality will be possible close to the fires, especially in Macon, southern Jackson, southern Transylvania, southern Henderson, and McDowell counties. The fire in Watauga County is putting out a reduced amount of smoke but Code Orange to Code Red air quality is possible near and immediately downwind. Patchier smoke, with air quality up to Code Orange, is possible across much of the Mountains and into the Foothills. The area of concern extends from Cherokee to Rutherford counties north to Watauga and Wilkes counties.
Tomorrow, a dry cold front will push eastward into the state, reaching to around the western Piedmont Friday night. Winds will turn westerly and remain light. Smoke will generally drift eastward into the Foothills including Hickory and possibly into the Triad and Charlotte regions. Air quality conditions will improve throughout the day in the Mountain counties touching the Tennessee border, including the Asheville area.
Fog Advisory: The meteorological conditions will be favorable tomorrowmorning (11/25/16) for smoke to contribute to dense fog or super fog for roads near any active or smoldering wildfires in western North Carolina and northern Georgia (including the Chestnut Ridge Wildfire). This is most likely to occur after 3:00 AM and the conditions will cease when the morning inversion ceases.
Outlook: On Saturday, a cold front will continue pushing through the state, reaching the coast toward late in the evening. Meanwhile, an upper level disturbance will swing by, which will help push the front through the area and enhance the push of cool air. Behind the front, north to northwest winds will bring in a fresh, dry and cold air mass into the area. Greater mixing and dispersion, along with the arrival of a fresh/clean air mass, will help reduce smoke concentrations, and the worst smoke will be confined to areas near and immediately downwind (south/southeast) of active wildfires. High pressure will move over the area by Sunday afternoon, and winds will become light and variable. Smoke will drift southward early then tend to spread out in the area near the fires during the afternoon.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE OF EMERGENCY, COUNTY FIRE BANS
Governor Pat McCrory has expanded a State of Emergency to cover 22 additional counties to help the state combat the ongoing spread of wildfires in western North Carolina. The 47 counties covered by the State of Emergency include: Alexander, Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Haywood, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Union, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey counties.
NATIONAL FOREST SERVICE NORTH CAROLINA, TOTAL FIRE BAN
NORTH CAROLINA FOREST SERVICE, FIRE BAN
UWHARRIE NATIONAL FOREST
The fire ban prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether contained in a grill or not). The fire ban will remain in effect until further notice. Note: Commercially available fuel stoves (camp stoves) are excluded from this restriction. Click HERE to see the news release.
ROAD AND TRAIL CLOSURES
For current information on NCDOT road closures please visit:https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/
APPALACHIAN TRAIL (A.T.)
Emergency trail closure (due to fire) in central Virginia
(11/20/2016 - Present)The A.T. is now closed from US 60 (mile 806.1) to Saltlog Gap, Virginia (mile 814.6). See the central Virginia section below for more details.
Emergency trail closure (due to fires) expanded from North Carolina into Georgia
(11/15/2016 - Present) The A.T. is now closed from Dicks Creek Gap/U.S. 76 in Georgia (mile 69.9) to the Nantahala River/US19/US74 in North Carolina (mile 137.1). NOTE: The Nantahala River is the last point at which southbound hikers can easily leave the Trail prior to reaching the closure. For more information visit, http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/trail-updates
Nantahala National Forest Closures
An area closure order (No. 08-11-09-17-02) for the Tusquitee Ranger District is in effect for lands, trails, and roads in the area surrounding the Boteler Fire.
An area closure order (No. 08-11-00-17-03) for the Tusquitee and Nantahala Ranger Districts is in effect for lands, trails, and roads southeast of the Boteler Fire. The closed area extends south from Highway 64 to the Georgia border and includes the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. The Appalachian Trail is closed from the Nantahala Outdoor Center south to the Georgia border.
The following trails are also closed: Wesser Creek, Whitewater Falls, Foothills from NC Hwy 281 to the Bad Creek access, Bartram Trail from Wine Spring Bald west to Nantahala Lake, and Bartram Trail from the trailhead at NC 106 north and west to NC 1643 (Hickory Knoll Road).
If you would like to donate to the Pinnacle Mountain Fire efforts some of the most needed items are Sam's Club gift cards, stocking caps, hand warmers, Ziploc bags, cleaning supplies and sandwich meat. These items can be delivered directly to Table Rock Wesleyan Camp 125 Bethany Cove Rd Pickens, SC 29671.
TODAY'S UPDATES ON ACTIVE FIRES OR FIRE COMPLEXES
HWY 151 FIRE (USFS - Buncombe County)
NCFS personnel are currently in cooperative efforts with the USFS and its resources to suppress a fire on HWY 151. The fire is in the vicinity of Trillium Lane. There are a few structures in the area; however, there has been a dozer line constructed between the fire and the structures. Currently burnout is taking place and the fire is backing. At this time there are USFS resources on scene and more resources have been ordered to assist in the fire suppression effort. SEATs and USFS helicopter are also being used in the fire suppression effort.
Acreage: ~200 - Start Date: November 24
MARTIN TRACE FIRE (NCFS - CLAY COUNTY)
The fire was reported at 2:06 A.M. on 11/23/16. The fire is contained and is in the mop up stage. One out building was lost. During the fire suppression efforts USFS aircraft assisted with multiple retardant drops. This is the last report on the Martin Trace Fire.
Acreage: ~47 - Start Date: November 23
CAMP BRANCH FIRE (USFS - MACON COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Today, crews constructed fireline away from the fire's edge in several places. On the west side, they continued to work from Forest Road (FR) 69 north of the Wilson Lick heritage site across Rocky Bald Ridge to FR 379B, eventually stopping at Licklog Gap. On the east side, they're working along Locust Tree Branch Road making their way north to Ray Branch and ultimately northwest to Licklog Gap. A structure-protection group continues to scout and assess protection needs for residences in the Bear Cove area and along Wayah Road (SR 1310). One structure was lost and one structure damaged from the fire.
Acreage: 800 - Containment: 0% - Start Date: November 23
HORTON FIRE (NCFS - WATAUGA COUNTY)
An Idaho type III team is coming in to manage the fire tomorrow 11/25/16. No new fire update available.
Sampson Road remains closed at State View Road. Residents that do not live in the area are asked to avoid the area, allowing fire response traffic safe access to the fire. The Watauga County Sheriff's Office is patrolling the fire perimeter.
Acreage: 1350 - Containment: 65% - Personnel: 125 - Start Date: November 21
PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS - PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)
Fire behavior continued to creep and burn through heavy leaf litter, understory and dry dead and down timber. The North Carolina Forest Service tied in with incident command, assisting efforts to secure the South Carolina/North Carolina state line.
Acreage: 7,282 - Containment: 40% - Personnel: 240 - Start Date: November 9
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS - MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
A community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. this Friday 11/25/16 at Grace Community Church, 5182 U.S.70 Marion, NC.
Significant humidity recovery tonight is expected to reach 100%, likely slowing the fire spread tonight. The flipside is that this may produce a super fog by tomorrow morning, which could limit mobility of fire operations on Friday.
Acreage: 2,509 - Containment: 15% - Personnel: 298 - Start Date: November 20
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Containment lines are in good condition after several days of crews extinguishing hotspots along a wide swath adjacent to the firelines. They walked the perimeter to blow off freshly fallen leaves as needed. Crews and heavy equipment operators repaired dozer lines, roads and other areas affected by fire-suppression activities.
The U.S. Forest Service closure order is still in effect for the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and roads leading into the area.
Acreage: 7,877 - Containment: 71% - Personnel: 263 - Start Date: November 4
BOTELER FIRE (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team is assigned management of the Boteler Fire, which also manages the following fires: Camp Branch Fire, Tellico Fire, and Old Roughy Fires. The SA Blue Team is also patrolling/monitoring: 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, Ridge Gap, Ferebee, Cliffside Fire, Whitewater Fire, Howard Gap, Knob, Muskrat, Bullpen, Jones Creek, Cathey Gap, Dick's Creek
Though the Boteler Fire remains within present control lines, the ongoing leaf drop and drought conditions continue to challenge containment efforts. Firefighters patrolled and monitored existing firelines, clearing them out as necessary to prevent escape into unburned areas. Leaves falling within the perimeter created occasional interior reburns.
For current road closures in Macon County CLICK HERE
Acreage: 9,036 - Containment: 77% - Personnel: 270 - Start Date: October 25
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
No evening update provided. Three (3) community meetings are scheduled for Saturday 11/26/16:
10:00 A.M.Lake Lure Fire Department - 622 Memorial HWY - Lake Lure
12:00 P.M.Chimney Rock Fire Department - 109 Terrace Dr. - Lake Lure
2:00 P.M.Bat Cave Baptist Church - 5095 Chimney Rock Rd. - Hendersonville
Acreage: 7,171 - Containment: 60% - Personnel: 383 - Start Date: November 5
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Mop up and holding the lines continued in all divisions.
Acreage: 6,435 - Containment: 75% - Personnel: 229 - Start Date: November 6
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS - SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Last night's rain, higher humidity, light winds and smoke will contribute to favorable conditions for dense fog late tonight and into tomorrow morning, particularly in the valleys. Firefighting officials urge people to use caution when driving especially near the Rock Mountain Fire area and surrounding communities.
Firefighters began firing operations to help bring the fire down to containment lines. Operations were on the north end of the fire from Chestnut Ridge to Indian Springs, as well as on the southeastern part of the active edge of the fire down towards Patterson Gap west to Abe Gap. Structure groups continued to hold and improve structure lines in and around all structures in the Patterson Gap and Betty's Creek Road area.
To see the latest pre-evacuation and evacuation updates, CLICK HERE.
Acreage: 18,069- Containment: 35% - Personnel: 515- Start Date: November 9
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