Dry, warm conditions a threat in fighting Table Rock fire

Dry, warm conditions a threat in fighting Table Rock fire

Credit: Mark Steven Houser

Dry, warm conditions a threat in fighting Table Rock fire

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by WCNC.com Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 9:16 PM

MORGANTON, N.C. -- Despite receiving about half an inch of rain over the weekend, the Table Rock wildfire in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area continues to burn, and has now destroyed more than 2,000 acres since it was discovered last week.

The Forestry Service said Sunday's rain was much needed, as the area has seen dry conditions in recent months, but fears that the warm, drying period that's forecasted over the next week "could be a real test on the new containment lines".

Additionally, wind gusts of up to 20 mph are expected Monday, which could quickly dry out the fuels in the area.

(Click here to view user-submitted photos of the blaze)

As of Monday afternoon, authorities say the fire remains listed at 2,275 acres, and is 40-percent contained.

One structure within the containment lines could possibly be threatened if the fire were to make a run south, official say. Meanwhile, fire crews remain staged near the Outward Bound camp to provide protection for those structures.

As of Monday afternoon, 193 fire personnel were assisting with the efforts in the Linville Gorge, including a 20-person hand crew from the Oklahoma Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Sunday, fire crews were pulled back from the Table Rock Fire in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area of the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, as high winds from a storm front threatened fire crew safety.

Crews resumed work on securing containment lines and cutting hazard trees after the line of storms moved through late Sunday evening.

The US Department of Agriculture said the fire jumped over a containment line at Chimney Gap Saturday. That line was difficult to construct there, officials said, because of steep, rocky terrain that made certain areas inaccessible.

Smoke from the fire has resulted in the issuance of a Code Orange Air Quality Alert for four western counties: Alexander, Burke, Catawba and Caldwell. The alert means the smoke could cause problems for anyone with respiratory problems or very young children. Officials say the “super fog” could also create hazardous driving conditions.

No injuries have been reported.

Extremely steep and rugged terrain pose serious safety and suppression challenged to the crews working to contain the Table Rock fire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.  But the U.S. Forest Service wants to hear from anyone who was at the Table Rock picnic area Monday, where investigators believe the fire was sparked.

Authorities say several trails in the Table Rock Mountain and Shortoff Mountain area are closed to the public. The Table Rock Picnic Area is also closed. If you're looking to visit the Linville Gorge, you're advised to visit the National Forests in North Carolina website for the latest closures.

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