Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 2:30 p.m.
At the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina, 549 firefighters and support staff are fighting 18 wildfire fires to protect people, structures, and infrastructure. Strong winds anticipated Tuesday and Wednesday will create "very active fire behavior" according to incident fire behavior analyst Bruce Davenport. West winds are expected to start increasing as early at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. Ridge-top wind gusts of 25 - 30 mph will be possible Wednesday morning. Northwest winds will develop as early as 4:00 a.m. Wednesday, with the strongest gusts expected Wednesday afternoon. Gusts of 20 - 25 mph will be possible for much of the night.
Additional requested crews are coming from all across the country to fight these fires.
Boteler: Firefighters scouted areas on the west and north sides of the fire for places to build fire lines. They constructed hand line from Boteler Peak toward Perry Gap. Firefighters strengthened line by burning vegetation between fire lines and the main fire. Today, with predicted changes in the weather for stronger winds from the west and northwest, firefighting operations will focus on protection of homes and structures. Structure assessment will be conducted in all developed areas. Firefighters will continue burning vegetation to keep fire within containment lines and protect structures as needed. They will continue to hold the fire line from Bruce Ridge Road around Mill Creek road into Vineyard Creek road.
Dick's Creek: Crews continued strengthening all fire lines. They monitored the continued leaf fall and potential re-burn as firefighters battled critically dry fuels and unusually active fire behavior. Today, they will patrol, monitor and mop-up on the Southeast end. They will also be mopping-up where possible to 50-100 feet in on all control lines, as well as checking and clean out of control lines by raking and blowing newly dropped dry leaves.
Knob: Firefighters continued "tying up loose ends" on this fire, which included planned and carefully monitored lighting of unburned areas to enhance protective value of dozer and hand crew-cut lines, managing snags, and other perimeter controls. Today, they will mop-up control lines 50-100 feet in by putting out smoldering remnants of the fire. They will also monitor and clean control lines. Crews and security teams will monitor Highway 64 for smoke and traffic as fire progresses and may close the highway for safety at any time.
Whitewater: Fire crewssecured and strengthened lines, and established water hose lines along in rocky areas to spray water on the fire. They continued assessing damage to the trail system. Today, they willimprove the lines while monitoring, patrolling, and mopping-up. Teams will continue assessing damage to trail system as time and conditions allow.
Tellico: Aircraft dropped retardant on this fire to restrict fire growth. Ground crews continued structure protection efforts by removing potentially flammable vegetation near structures. Today, crews will work to secure structures as the fire approaches. Where needed, bulldozers or hand crews will cut away and clear unburned vegetation in lines to direct the fire away from structures, creating a more defensible space from the wildfire. Crews willcontinue establishing control lines to the North and East. They will continue placing and holding fire lines on the Southwest side of the fire to protect structures. They will also locate additional structure protection needs on the East side of the fire, patrol and mop-up.
Cliffside: Firefighters monitored the fires actions, patrolled, and mopped-up.Today, they willexpand mop-up control lines 100 feet in the direction of the fire. They also will monitor and clean out these lines.
Ferebee: Similar to actions at Tellico, fire crews improved and extended hand firelines and dozer lines today. They scouted for new line locations in the gorge to tie up flanks. Crews worked to construct fire lines down to the stream from both sides to connect dozer lines. Today, they willbe working on completing dozer lines on top of the ridge. Also, they will scout for areas to cut off the fire spread to the North and South. The major focus is to protect structures in areas adjacent to the fire.
May Branch: Crews monitored the fire, patrolled, and mopped-up. They also checked and cleaned out control lines. Today, they willincrease mop-up distance to 100 feet in from control lines while monitoring and cleaning out control lines.
Buck Creek: Firefighters contained the fire. They also improved fire lines, conducted mop up and patrolled. Today, firefighters will monitor and patrol the fire.
Avey Branch, Grape Cove, Jarrett Bald, Jones Gap, Maples Springs, Mulberry, Moss Knob, Moses Creek, and Wine Springs: Crews assessed new fires and continued monitoring and patrolling, and will do the same today.
The Nantahala National Forest has the following fire restrictions in place:
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire is not allowed outside of developed campgrounds where a fee is paid.
The State of North Carolina has enacted a burn ban for the following counties: Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, and Yancey. Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued.
For more information, see http://ncforestservice.gov/news_pubs/newsdesk_2016.htm
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