UPDATE: Linville Gorge Wildfire
Fire fighters are making progress on suppressing the Table Rock wildfire in the Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District, Pisgah National Forest. A change in weather conditions today should bring some much needed rain to the area. However, the rain is expected to be sparse across the Linville Gorge and will not be enough to fully suppress the fire. Total size of the fire grew to 1,800 acres yesterday with a 40% containment estimate as a result of extensive burnout operations.
Wildfire suppression efforts today will focus on additional burnouts along the southern flank of the fire. Crews have built containment lines by hand and dozer, and expect to fire from these lines as they use fire to fight fire. Smoke will increase this afternoon due to the active fire and burnout operations. The public will continue to be affected by smoke in the immediate area but there should not be any serious impact beyond the Forest boundary. Federal fire fighters from 4 states have joined forces in North Carolina to suppress the Table Rock Fire, with more than 100 personnel working the fire. The Cherokee Hotshot crew from Tennessee is the most recent hand crew to join forces with the North Carolina Type 3 Team.
To date, the fire intensity has been moderate across the gorge. Burnout crews are seeing full consumption of fuels as the set fires move toward the active fire, thus leaving few areas of unburned fuel between the fire and the containment lines. This means less potential for a re-burn later in the future.
Twenty-five structures in the Outward Bound camp area were originally threatened by the wildfire, but containment lines and burnout tactics have been successfully used as protection measures. There are no additional structures threatened and no injuries to fire fighters to date.
Roads and trails in the Linville Gorge remain closed to protect the public and fire fighters, who use the narrow, winding roads for fire access. The public should check the National Forests in North Carolina website for the latest closure information before planning any trips into the Linville Gorge.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. However, fire investigators would appreciate talking with the group who were camping at Table Rock Picnic Area last Monday, Veteran's Day. Investigators believe this group has information that would aid in the investigation. A reward may be offered for substantial information regarding this investigation and persons should contact Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp at 828-442-2470 or the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.