Wildfires in Western North Carolina remain the same size, and are increasingly contained

ASHEVILLE — After gaining hundreds of acres nearly every day since a lightning strike first ignited the Collette Ridge Fire, the largest wildfire in western North Carolina did not grow over the weekend while firefighting crews made progress in containment.

Crews at the Poplar Drive Fire in Henderson County also made strides in containment, while the fire maintained the same area.

North Carolina remains under a state of emergency, Gov. Roy Cooper declared, as wildfires continue to burn with moderate to severe drought in the region causing increased fire danger.

Collett Ridge Fire

The fire, which was first detected Oct. 23 in the Cherokee County area of ​​the Nantahala National Forest, has been at 5,335 acres, about 8.3 square miles, since Nov. 11.

Wet weather played an important role in helping containment, which increased from 18% to 55% compared to the previous day, according to an updated news release from the U.S. Forest Service on Nov. 13. But more rain may be needed to put out the fires. fire.

“Until sufficient precipitation falls on the fire, expect isolated burning areas, especially in heavy woody fuels such as log ends and snags,” the statement said. “Wood fuel may continue to burn as relative humidity rises. Heavy fuel concentrations will retain heat and serve as heat sources in the future.”

Last updated: WNC wildfires: Collett Ridge and Edneyville fires not growing; Rains are not enough to end the drought

The statement said that the region is expected to witness high pressure on November 13 and 14 with a dry period. Minimum humidity is expected to drop to 30-40% on November 13 and 25-40% on November 14.

“Moisture recovery along the ridge tonight may be weak,” a Nov. 13 statement said.

Conditions are expected to be dry until late on Nov. 15, when there is a 20% to 30% chance of rain over most of the southern mountains from Cherokee to Hendersonville, according to meteorologist Doug Outlaw of the National Weather Service. There is a 30% chance of rain over the entire mountainous region during the day on November 17 and into the night.

“Amounts will remain fairly minimal, with amounts as small as one-hundredth of an inch late Wednesday and Thursday,” Outlaw told the Citizen-Times. “The best possibility for any measurable rain is Friday morning in the Cashiers to Brevard area. Some areas could approach a quarter of an inch.”

Emergency: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency as wildfires raged in the mountains

A drone was used to map heat signatures within the fire on Nov. 11, which identified larger burning fuels “within the perimeter of the fire,” which included snags, logs, and dead and fallen trees, the release said.

The 271 designated personnel will continue working on containment lines and hand lines on November 13, while helping to protect structures in surrounding communities.

“Work will continue on the hand line along the Pulicat Branch to connect with the containment line along the southern edge of the fire,” the statement said. “Firefighters will thin the fire fuel around residences in the Whispering Pines area as a protection measure against future fires.”

The U.S. Forest Service closed the area extending from Big Stump east to Shinbone Ridge and Signal Bald for the safety of the public and firefighters, the statement said. The intersection of Little Fires Creek Road and Fires Creek Road was also closed. The Rim Trail is temporarily closed for approximately 7 miles from Big Stamp to Shinbone.

Poplar Drive fire

Entry 11y On the day of the fire, the fire near Edneyville in Henderson County also remained the same size, 434 acres, and containment increased from 70% the day before to 75% on Nov. 13, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.

The number of personnel continues to be reduced, from 119 crew members to 98 as of November 13.

“Firefighters will continue to vigorously clear inside containment lines, patrol around structures, reduce the risk of falling obstacles and reinforce containment lines when necessary,” the statement said.

Hendersonville Vineyard Owner: A Hendersonville vineyard owner describes the community’s response to the Poplar Drive Fire

Crew members from the N.C. Forest Service, N.C. Emergency Management, State Fire Marshal’s Office, Henderson County Emergency Management, Edneyville Fire Department along with numerous other fire departments across the state responded to the fire.

The statement said that although progress has been made in fighting the fire, falling leaves and obstacles increase the possibility of the fire igniting again. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

One house, two cabins and three outbuildings were lost, while another house was damaged. According to the press release, homes in the area are still under threat. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, were treated and released. Also, 4 minor traffic accidents were recorded, without any injuries.

A burn ban is in effect across WNC. Both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park have bonfire bans in backcountry areas. Backcountry campgrounds in nine North Carolina state parks are closed.

See a map of fires burning across western North Carolina at https://data.citizen-times.com/fires.

Riley Ober is the public safety reporter for the Asheville Citizen-Times, part of the USA Today Network. Email her at rober@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter @ryleyober

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