From Staff Reports 

Firefighters, Others Working To Stop Wildfires – Transylvania County NC

 

November 14, 2016



Over the weekend local firefighters, volunteers and others were busy strengthening the fire break lines from Sassafras Mountain area east toward Ceasar’s Head in light of the wildfire on Pinnacle Mountain in South Carolina.

“The South Carolina fire has burned about 2,300 acres,” said N.C. Forest Service Ranger Frank Rogers this morning. “So far, it hasn’t gotten far enough to where we know whether or not it’s coming to North Carolina, but it is within about a mile of the state line, and where it’s at it’s all uphill, and fire burns hotter and faster uphill.”

Most of the local work has focused on the N.C. 178 area off East Fork Road on Glady Fork right at the state line.

Rogers said if the fire does come from South Carolina, they would fight “fire with fire.”

“If we put in fire lines, and then on the side, where the fire is at, we will light it, and what that does is that the backfire burns the main fire and the fire goes out,” he said. “Then we can control it. So, if we see that fire coming up the mountain, there is no way we can control it by putting in a hand line or water. We have to basically put in a fire line, and then at certain trigger points when the fire is below us, we light that back fire off, and it will burn into the main part of the fire, and it burns the fire fuels out.”


Rogers said most of the time “that works great.”

“But right now, as much fuel that is on the ground that is dry, it’s hard to burn it out,” he said. “And that’s what we’ve done, from the North Carolina to the South Carolina line, we are putting in lines with dozers and by hand.

“So, if the fire gets loose and comes…. again in South Carolina, we’ve got trigger points, when it gets loose, and we will start burning off the top of the mountain to control that fire to keep it from coming in on North Carolina.”


Fire Alerts

For citizens with cell phones, Transylvania County Emergency Services has set up an alerting system just for issues related to any fire that may happen in the county. Those interested should send a text message to the following number — 69310. The text message to send to that number is TCNCFIRE. You will get a reply back from the system stating, “You have been subscribed to Transylvania County NC Fire Alerts. Text HELP for help, STOP to stop to 69310.”

Closures/Restrictions

Several state parks in Western North Carolina have been closed to allow additional staff and resources to be deployed to fight wildfires, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation reported late last week.

The division has closed Gorges, New River, Elk Knob, Lake James and Mount Mitchell state parks and Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Those planning to visit other state parks in the Western part of the state are advised to check the division’s web From left to right are Stan Jacobsen, Duke Woodhull, Roger Herbert and Paul Morgan. site at http://www.ncparks.gov/ before making the trip. The parks will reopen when the fires are contained or extinguished and staff are able to return to their assigned parks. A handful of staff will remain on duty in the closed parks for security purposes.


The division has also expanded its burning ban on all fires, including charcoal, to all parks west of Interstate 95.

The Blue Ridge Parkway also announced fire restrictions in both the North Carolina and Virginia sections because of the extremely dry conditions, high fire danger and little chance of rain in the immediate forecast.

The following fire restrictions are in place for the Blue Ridge Parkway until further notice, and in accordance with other state and county agencies:

•Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire is not allowed

•The use of portable lanterns, stoves, or heating equipment that use gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed. Charcoal fires are not allowed.

This applies to all picnic areas that remain open and accessible for use.

The N.C. Forest Service has also issued a burning ban on all open burning and cancelled burning permits in the 25 counties in the Western part of the state. To date, there have been evacuations ordered in Clay, Graham, Macon, Rutherford and Swain counties.

Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency to help the state combat more than 20 active wildfires in Western North Carolina prompted by the lingering drought that has impacted the region since late spring.

The State of Emergency is in effect for 25 counties, including Transylvania, Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Watauga and Yancey counties.

 
 

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