Linville Gorge wildfire spreads to 1,300 acres in Burke County

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

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BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - A massive wildfire continues to burn in Burke County, already charring more than 1,300 acres and is 20 percent contained.

Firefighters conducted burnout operations Monday afternoon in the Linville Gorge in order to keep the fire from spreading. There were 160 firefighters who responded to the wildfire. They said they're keeping an eye on a weather system that is expected to move in Tuesday afternoon and has the potential for increased winds.

Officials warned that smoke Monday night could impact areas around Lake James and Nebo. They said  wind shift overnight could push the smoke toward Morganton. 

Faherty was not able to see many flames Monday morning but spotted a lot of smoke. He also met people, including one group that traveled all the way from Florida, who had to turn around after showing up at the gorge. There are several trails from Table Rock Mountain down to Shortoff Mountain that are closed because of the fire.

Investigators still do not know what started the fire here, but Channel 9 learned that the U.S. Forest Service wrote 16 citations over the weekend of hikers violating the closures on the southeast side of the gorge.

The Forest Service said that the rain on Friday was very helpful, dropping about a half inch of rain in the area. They're hoping more rain forecasted for Tuesday night will also help their efforts.

(Click PLAY to watch Chopper 9 over the wildfire)

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