Party Rock fire grows to 5700 acres

A wildfire in Western North Carolina is growing.

CHIMNEY ROCK, N.C. -- The Party Rock Fire has continued to grow since doubling in size since last week. The fire footprint is now 5,714 acres and 19-percent contained, according to North Carolina Forest Services.

Firefighters are continuing their efforts in protecting structures while constructing containment lines around the fire, however, fire managers are concerned about predicted strong winds.

North Carolina Forest Services says the managers are preparing for the winds later this week and say they may increase the size of the fire.

Fire information officer Bill Swartley said the fire has been especially difficult to contain.

"It keeps changing its mind," Swartley said. "As a consequence, we have to keep changing our plans."

He said improved weather conditions finally allowed firefighters to use helicopters to suck up water from Lake Lure to douse and slow down the flames.

Henderson County emergency management and law enforcement officials began implementing an evacuation of Highway 9 between the intersections of Highway 74-A and Shumont Road at noon Wednesday. They say the evacuation should be completed by 5 p.m.

Robin and Bonnie Worcester evacuated their house several days ago, leaving only with important documents, some sentimental items and each other.

"Yes, we're anxious. Yes, we wait day to day wondering what's going to happen next," Bonnie Worcester said.

"But I still remain very, very grateful for our safety."

Evacuated residents can shelter at Grace Lutheran Church located at 1245 6th Avenue West in Hendersonville.

Residents that were evacuated in the Boys Camp Road area were allowed to begin returning to their homes Tuesday. To enter, residents must show proof of residency at the checkpoint by Boys Camp Road.

 

According to North Carolina Forest Services, the re-entry checkpoint is accessible from the Lake Lure (south) side of Highway 74-A/64, and not from the Bat Cave (north) side of these roads.

The Village of Chimney Rock continues to remain closed as of Wednesday.

A stretch of Highway 74-A leading into Chimney Rock Village from the north and south remains closed as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Charlotte Fire Department is one of the many assisting with firefighting efforts near Lake Lure.

To access the latest on road information, visit NCDOT Travel Information Management System website.

Party Rock Fire information can be found at INCIWEB or on the Town of Lake Lure Facebook page.

Air Quality alerts can be seen on the National Weather Service website.

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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