Firefighters conducted burnout operations Monday afternoon to reduce fuels and buffer fire lines on the White Creek Fire. The fire, which was reported Thursday, is burning near Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is now 1,365 acres and 20% contained.
Firefighters completed fireline preparation yesterday on the north end of the fire ahead of burn out operations today. Firelines were improved on the southend in anticipation of favorable weather conditions forecasted for burnout operations on Tuesday.
Burnouts Monday afternoon took place on the north end of the containment area, near Chimney Gap. Removal of fuel in this area allowed for increased containment. A weather system is predicted to move into the area Tuesday afternoon, with potential for increased winds.
Smoke may impact areas around Lake James and Nebo this evening. Winds shifting overnight could push smoke towards Morganton. Travelers along Highways 181 and 126 should use caution, as smoke may settle in low-lying areas overnight and into the morning.
160 firefighters are on scene today. The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with support from the North Carolina Forest Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Burke and McDowell County Emergency Management, and North Carolina Emergency Management.
An area closure is in effect for all U.S. Forest Service lands east of State Road 1238 (Old NC 105 / Kistler Memorial Highway), south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), south of Table Rock Picnic Area, west of Back Irish Creek Forest Service Road #118 (Blue Gravel Road) and Roses Creek Forest Service Road #99, north of Highway 126. In addition, the following trails are closed: Shortoff Trail (Tr #235), Rock Jock Trail (Tr #247), Pinch-In Trail (Tr #228), Linville Gorge Trail (Tr #231) south of Conley Cove Trail (Tr #229), Mountains to Sea Trail (Tr #440) from State Road 1238 at Pinnacles to the Table Rock Picnic Area, and any social trails existing within the closure area. Public entry is prohibited within this area.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Remember: Flying a drone near a wildfire is breaking the law. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. So, be smart and just don't fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire.