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Over 50 firefighters work to put out wildfire in Watauga County

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — Several fire crews are battling a wildfire in the Deep Gap area of Watauga County.

The fire started around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Triplet Community’s new Powder Horn Development, south of Boone.

Channel 9 viewer Susan Elizabeth Chaney captured photos and video of the wildfire. She said that it started off as a brush fire that spread.

Firefighters from across the country have been working to keep this fire from spreading.

The U.S. Forest Service sent firefighters from California to North Carolina. A hotshot team climbed the mountainside Thursday to set back burns hoping to char the forest floor ahead of the main fire.

Resident Patty Dugger watched them hard at work this morning.

“I never dreamed this place could be on fire everywhere,” Dugger said Thursday. “It is dry. You could throw a cigarette out and it would take half of them.”

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spotted firefighters near homes in the Powderhorn Mountain. They arrived overnight as flames came dangerously close to homes here.

As many as 60 firefighters were in the woods keeping families, including Claire Turner’s safe.

“You (Firefighters) are just an amazing group of human beings that are so caring and wonderful because they were volunteer firefighters and some of them had to work today,” Turner told Faherty.

Nearly 225 acres had burned there by noon on Thursday, but first responders said there are containment lines around much of the fire.

Resident Barry Severt is hoping for rain soon.

“It looks bad,” Severt said. “Real bad and it’s rough country. It’s hard to fight it.”

Blueridge Parkway officials sent an email to Channel 9 on Thursday to let people know that because of the increased fire danger in western North Carolina and Virginia, they are temporarily banning backcountry campfires effective immediately.

The American Red Cross has opened a temporary shelter for residents who have been evacuated from the area.

No injuries have been reported.

This comes after Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in response to another wildfire in Henderson County, as well as overall drought conditions in the state.

This executive order will support emergency response operations and help officials ensure the protection and safety of residents throughout the area.


VIDEO: Wildfires on the rise in western NC