Forest Service update: Table Rock fire in Linville Gorge wilderness covers 2,700 acres

Press release from the U.S. Forest Service

BURKE COUNTY, NC – Due to concerns over fire fighter safety, The North Carolina Type 3 Team is evaluating options for controlling the Table Rock wildfire in the Linville Gorge on the Grandfather Ranger District. “Even though recent rains have assisted fire fighters in their suppression efforts, this wildfire is definitely not out” stated Deputy Incident Commander Steve Little.

Firefighting crews will continue to work on a spot fire that was discovered yesterday in the early morning hours. The wildfire breached containment lines in the Chimney Gap area. The spot over had burned more than 40 acres before it was discovered during the morning reconnaissance flight. The Team has identified several contingencies and different management objectives to implement the suppression strategy they had identified earlier in the week. No homes or structures are threatened by this new development, but the Team will be working with State and local cooperators to ensure adequate alert and protection measures are in place.

Suppression tactics today will focus on securing containment lines along the southern and eastern perimeters. Crews will begin line preparation efforts during the day, which includes mechanical line construction and removal of safety hazards such as snags. Various options have been identified in case the fire moves beyond expected containment lines. Lines on the north side are holding firm along Spence Ridge and around the Outward Bound camp. Crews and an engine are applying structure protection measures around the camp and will stay in place as long as necessary.

Size of the fire is estimated at 2,700 acres with 40% containment. There is one structure on private property identified within the containment lines. Protection measures are being implemented to reduce the risk of damage from the fire. There was one reported injury from a minor vehicle accident. Additional dozers and another 20 person hand crew were ordered today to assist with suppression efforts. This brings the total number of firefighters to 140, representing 10 states across the country.

Two additional trails were closed yesterday in the Linville Gorge area, the Hawksbill Trail (#248) and the Pinnacle Trail (#440). In response to concerns for public safety, several of the roads and trails in the Linville Gorge will remain closed. If you have plans to recreate in the gorge this weekend you should first check the National Forests in North Carolina website for the latest closure information.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, fire investigators would appreciate talking with the group who were camping at Table Rock Picnic Area last Monday, Veteran’s Day. Investigators believe this group has information that would aid in the investigation. A reward may be offered for substantial information regarding this investigation and persons should contact Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp at 828-442-2470 or the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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