BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - Firefighters gained ground Friday on the Table Rock wildfire in Burke County that is now 40 percent contained after it grew to 1,800 acres.
People as far away as Boone and Hickory said they could smell smoke from the fire nearly 30 miles away.
Those living and working closer to the smoke did what they could to avoid it.
The smoke was so thick that it was difficult to pick out the flames Friday morning, even within a couple of miles of the fire.
That is where Harry Patton was helping build a house delivering a truck full of wood this morning.
"It's hard to get your breath up here," said Harry Patton, construction worker. "It is like walking in a maze. Don't know where you're at it is so foggy. It is pretty rough on people with respiratory conditions."
William Faulkner first noticed the smoke when he left his home in Hickory Friday morning.
He hikes the Linville Gorge frequently and traveled to Burke County to see the impact of the fire, but in some areas wasn't able to see anything through the layer of smoke.
"It is just smoke and more smoke," Faulkner said. "Lot of tons of pollutants have gone into the air during the last three or four days. It has scattered for a lot of counties. It is a mess."
Eyewitness News reporter Dave Faherty climbed above the fire to see how far the smoke had spread.
Looking back toward Hickory, he could see the reason for the poor air quality alert.
Firefighters said they have been setting several fires near the Linville Gorge hoping to blacken an area of the forest around the main fire in hopes of stopping it.
They are aware of the poor air quality and said the rugged terrain leaves them little choice.
The containment lines Friday morning was 1,800 acres, and with the rest of the burnouts planned, firefighters expect this fire to grow in size to 2,500 acres.
State officials have issued an air pollution advisory for the western Piedmont of North Carolina because of the ongoing wildfire in Burke County.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality issued the advisory for Burke, Caldwell and McDowell counties, where residents could experience unhealthy air quality, depending on wind directions.