ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Forecasts say much-needed rain will arrive this week to bring relief to firefighters who have been battling the wildfires in western North Carolina for weeks.
Almost all of the major fires are more than 50 percent contained with many at 80 percent and higher.
Many firefighters from all over North Carolina and 24 other states are starting to head home from the Party Rock fire as it is now 90 percent contained.
Channel 9 was with firefighters Monday at the Horton fire in Blowing Rock. Many spent their time digging up thr ground, looking for any hot spots.
"That's kind of what we're searching for right now is to mitigate any of those reburn spots," said firefighter Eric Juarez.
The fire has actually caught some tree roots on fire underground. One firefighter told Channel 9 the fire can go about two feet below the ground and cause problem.
Crews have been preparing for the wet weather by extinguishing the hot spots and removing extra firefighting equipment from the area. Some neighbors in the area are hoping the damage done by the wildfires won't lead to flash flooding or mudslides. But firefighters believe is enough underbrush to prevent serious erosion issues.
A burn ban is still in effect for 47 counties across the state.
Officials say several areas are being evacuated because of fires in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
Gatlinburg police had been going door to door in one neighborhood asking for voluntary evacuations. But the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that as wind picked up and fallen trees sparked fires from downed lines, Gatlinburg fire officials declared a mandatory evacuation of a larger area.
The newspaper said some park employees were also evacuating and some locations closed.
A news release from the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce said the National Park Service reported more fire growth expected in the park with spot fires possibly forming outside the main area.
Monday, Nov. 28 update:
HORTON FIRE (NCFS – BLOWING ROCK, WATAUGA COUNTY)
The Horton fire, burning more than 1,400 acres in Watauga County, is 65 percent contained.
- Acreage: 1,450
- Containment: 65 percent
- Personnel: 115
- Start Date: Nov. 21
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS – MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
Fire spread to the West due to continuous fuel. Increased winds out of the NW were observed on the ridge tops. Dry and mild weather will persist Sunday and Monday ahead of approaching rain. Aviation resources will assist firefighters as visibility allows in holding the firelines and slowing fire spread with bucket drops.
- Acreage: 3,163
- Containment: 83 percent
- Personnel: 495
- Start Date: Nov. 20
BOTELER FIRE (USFS—CHUNKY GAL AREA, Clay County)
Maintain and patrol control lines. Improve, secure, and mop up any smokes near firelines. Coordinate structure protection within divisions.Respond to Initial Attack fires. Continue Suppression repair where needed.
- Acreage: 9,036
- Containment: 85 percent
- Personnel: 185
- Start Date: Oct. 25
CAMP BRANCH FIRE (USFS – OTTO, MACON COUNTY)
Continue to construct and improve primary containment lines. Maintain established lines to ensure that they are not compromised by leaf fall. Continue to mop-up spot to the extent necessary to prevent fire escaping the containment lines. Provide structure and infrastructure protection.
- Acreage: 2,146
- Containment: 35 percent
- Personnel: 262
- Start Date: Nov. 23
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS—LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
The Southern Area Blue Team on the Boteler Fire is assigned management of this fire.
Monitor hot spots and continue suppression repair.
- Acreage: 7,788
- Containment: 78 percent
- Personnel: 105
- Start Date: Nov. 4
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS—LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Fire crews are extinguishing remaining hot spots and removing excess firefighting equipment from the firelines.
- Acreage: 7,145
- Containment: 90 percent
- Personnel: 192
- Start Date: Nov. 5
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS – SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Fire personnel will strengthen the depth of containment lines wihtout burnout operations as weather permits. Six handcrews and six engines will be fully engaged in mop up and patrol. Crews continue fire suppression repair objectives.
- Acreage: 24,725
- Containment: 45 percent
- Personnel: 651
- Start Date: Nov. 9
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS—SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Firefighters are working on hot spots. The estimated acreage on the interior reburn has increased to 60 acres; smoke may be visible. Crews will continue mop up and holding the lines in all divisions as well as structure protection.
- Acreage: 6,435
- Containment: 80 percent
- Personnel: 138
- Start Date: Nov. 6
PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS – PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)
Implement burnout operations, including aerial ignition, as weather and fire conditions dictate. Mop-up hot spots near fire lines. Utilize air assets to continue water drops to control spread and prevent escapes. Crews will also patrol firelines and cool hot spots throughout the fire perimeter.
- Acreage: 10,097
- Containment: 50 percent
- Personnel: 281
- Start Date: Nov. 9
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