News alert from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
The White Creek Fire was reported at 4:00 pm Thursday and is burning near Shortoff Mountain at the south end of Linville Gorge, on the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The fire is estimated at 75 acres and 0% contained.
Last night, firefighters worked to re-establish firelines on the south end of the fire with the goal of protecting private property. The Linville Gorge has an extensive fire history, allowing firefighters to fall back to existing lines established in the Table Rock (2013), Shortoff (2007), and Brushy Ridge (2000) fires. Today, firefighters will be conducting burn out operations to secure the southern edge of the fire.
100 firefighters are on scene today. The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with support from the North Carolina Forest Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Burke County Emergency Management, and North Carolina Emergency Management.
The U.S. Forest Service has issued an emergency closure for the Shortoff Trail (Trail #235) and the Mountains to Sea Trail (Trail #440) from Old Highway 105 at Pinnacles to the Table Rock Picnic Area. The public is asked to avoid the area. Fire managers are looking at a larger area closure that would include the southern portion of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Information on the larger closure is expected to be released later today.
Areas around Lake James and Morganton could experience smoke today and tonight, especially along Highway 181 between Oak Hill and Linville Falls. Smoke may also impact areas to the north and east as winds shift this evening. Travelers should use caution when driving in smoke – use headlights and increase following distances.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Remember: Flying a drone near a wildfire is breaking the law. Doing so can result in a significant fine and/or a mandatory court appearance. So, be smart and just don’t fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire.
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