by: Dave Faherty Updated:
BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - A Burke County wildfire is 100 percent contained on Tuesday night. It burned out of control for weeks, damaging more than 2,500 acres of the Linville Gorge.
Eyewitness News saw the damage up close on Tuesday and found out why the forest is not a total loss.
"Right here in the picnic area...all of this was black and covered in flames," said Renardo Knight of the U.S. Forest Service.
Knight took us to the very spot where the Table Rock fire started.
Somewhere in this picnic area, the fire spread quickly, growing in size from 40 acres to hundreds in a 48-hour period.
The Forest Service has posted a photo of a person of interest in the case who was seen camping the day the fire started. Today, we hiked the trails to see the damage up close.
Eyewitness News could see where the wildfire blackened both sides of the trail running down the east side of the Gorge.
The fire burned hot in some areas, got up into the trees and charred the ground.
Firefighters didn't have much of a chance stopping the fire in some places.
Just down there are some cliffs that drop off nearly 300 feet.
"It is sore on the eyes at the moment, but it actually is great for the environment. A lot of the plant on Tablerock thrives on annual fire," said Knight.
The Forest Service says the fire will allow the bigger trees like poplar and pines to grow here.
Jeep Barrett and his wife live near the fire and kept a close eye on it as it grew.
They came to Tablerock today to see the aftermath and believe the wildlife will come back.
"It is great to see how it survived... how nature survives," said Barrett.
The Forest Service said it will have firefighters in the area to make sure the trails that have reopened are safe for hikers.