Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slight Increase in Table Rock Fire; Community Meeting Scheduled for Tonight

The Table Rock Fire in the Linville Gorge Wilderness showed some increased activity this morning in the area just north of Chimney Branch. A decision was made to burn the 100-acre block of unburned fuels between the active fire, Chimney Branch to the south, and Linville River to the west to strengthen the natural barriers and aid in slowing the fire’s southern progress. Today, weather conditions were optimal for completing the burnout in a safe manner. Ignition was accomplished using plastic spheres resembling ping-pong balls containing combustible chemicals. After being activated, the spheres were dropped from a helicopter-mounted aerial ignition machine into the specific areas targeted for burning. Forecast winds for the next several days will keep any embers from this burnout within the black area of the fire.

Weatherwise, light winds and much higher humidity levels will limit fire growth potential over the next couple of days. Despite more favorable conditions to limit fire growth, the combination of fog development and light winds may lead to highly reduced visibilities near the fire Thursday night and Friday morning. Persons driving through the area during those times should be alert for rapidly changing conditions and use extreme caution, slow down, and turn on headlights. A strong cold front will move through Saturday morning with sharply colder temperatures, very windy conditions, and much lower humidity levels through Sunday.

As of this morning, the fire has burned 2579 acres, is 50% contained, while 200 fire fighting personnel continue to battle the blaze.

A Community Meeting is planned for tonight to inform neighboring communities about the processes and strategies used to identify and select fire suppression activities. There are many, many variables that must be considered before critical decisions are made in firefighting. The public is invited to join local US Forest Service officials and leaders from the Southern Area Type 2 Team for an opportunity to learn about the fire, what has happened to date, what actions are being considered, and what factors will affect decisions relating to those actions.

Meeting details:

Jonas Ridge Fire and Rescue Department
8224 Buckeye Hollow Rd.
Jonas Ridge, NC 28641

When: Thursday, November 21, 2013 6:00 pm

For more information, contact the Fire Information Center at 828-432-9817.

The Table Rock wildfire, which started November 12th, is located in Linville Gorge on Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The following roads and trails remain closed:

FS Road 210 (aka Roses Creek Rd)
FS Road 21OB (Rich Cove Rd)
FS Road 99 (aka Table Rock (paved) Rd)
FS Road 118 (aka Back-Irish Creek Rd)
Trail 228 Pinch In
Trail 229 (aka Conley Cove)
Trail 231 (aka Linville Gorge Trail) from junction of Trail 229 south to terminus
Trail 232 (aka Brushy Ridge)
Trail 233 (aka Spence Ridge)
Trail 235 (aka Shortoff)
Trail 236 (aka Little Table Rock)
Trail 244 (Devil's Hole) Table Rock Picnic Area
Trail 245 (aka Jonas Ridge)
Trail 247 (aka Rock Jock)
Trail 248 (aka Hawksbill)
Trail 440 Pinnacle Trail

For information on the latest road and trail closures, visit the National Forests in North Carolina website. Visitors should check the website before planning a trip to the gorge.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire investigators are looking for any information or observations that may help determine the cause of the fire. A reward may be offered for substantial information and persons should contact Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp at 828-442-2470 or the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.

Hiking in the Smokies

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