From the United States Forest Service:
Burnouts Planned for Sugar Cove Fire
NEBO, NC, January 31, 2017 – Crews continue work on fire lines on the Sugar Cove Fire near Marion in preparation for burn out operations planned for tomorrow. The fire saw limited activity overnight, and remains at approximately 180 acres with 10 percent containment.
The fire is burning northeast of NC Highway 80 in the Singecat Branch and Burgins Creek drainage. Fire activity is expected to increase this afternoon with unseasonably warm temperatures, but is predicted to remain moderate as the fire moves along the ridges and slowly backs down slopes, pushing to the northeast. Structure protection is in place for homes and buildings on the south end of the fire area. No structures are currently threatened.
Crews are continuing fire line construction today around the fire. Once containment lines are established, crews will be able to conduct burnout operations to remove fuels between the active fire and the fire lines. Burnout operations are used to slow fire spread and increase containment. The public can expected to see increased smoke in the area tomorrow from these operations.
Smoke dispersion is predicted to be good tomorrow, meaning smoke from the fire will be lifted up and away from local communities. However, the public can still expect to see smoke settling in valleys and low-lying areas overnight and in the early morning, especially along US-70 and US-221 in the West Marion and Pleasant Gardens areas.
Both U.S. Forest Service and NC Forest Service resources are working under a unified command Incident Management Team with approximately 90 personnel including local volunteer fire departments from McDowell County and McDowell County Emergency Management. Additional resources continue to arrive to support fire operations.
The Woods Mountain Trail (TR 218) is closed to protect public and firefighter safety. This trail closure includes the portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway to US-221. NC Highway 80 remains temporarily closed to all but local traffic between Buck Creek Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Little Buck Road near Lake Tahoma.
The fire began on private land on Saturday, January 28, at approximately 1 pm and resulted from a brush burn pile that escaped and burned onto the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest.
The public is encouraged to use extreme caution with outdoor fires. Western North Carolina continues to be abnormally dry despite recent rain and snow. For tips on protecting your property, visit www.ncfirewise.org.