Monday, April 13, 2015

Wildfire Closes Portions of Linville Gorge Wilderness area

The Blue Gravel wildfire is still burning this morning in a remote area east of Shortoff Mountain just outside Linville Gorge Wilderness area on the Pisgah National Forest. With dry conditions yesterday, the fire increased to the south and west and is now estimated at 221 acres. Light rain in the area overnight, along with overcast skies and higher humidity has reduced fire activity this morning. Today, firefighters are monitoring the fire. Forecasted precipitation into the evening hours and tomorrow is expected to aid firefighting efforts.

For public safety the southern Linville Gorge Wilderness area from Chimney Gap south and east of the Linville River is temporarily closed. In addition, the following roads and trails remain closed within the fire area:

* Back Irish Creek Road (Forest Road 118), also known as the Blue Gravel Road

* Shortoff Trail (TR 235)

* Mountains to Sea Trail (TR 440) from the Pinnacles trailhead to the Table Rock Picnic Area.

Approximately 80 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and local volunteer fire departments are assigned to the fire. Burke County and North Carolina Emergency Management are supporting fire operations. Minimizing risk for firefighters, local communities, and the public are primary objectives.

The Blue Gravel fire is burning in an area where wildfires have frequently occurred allowing the use of previously established containment lines. Yesterday, firefighters improved fire lines that were successful in achieving containment in the past, and use of them will likely allow firefighters to minimize disturbance within the wilderness area. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.



Jeff
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