LINVILLE, N.C. — A fire first reported on Christmas Eve that burned on the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in Avery County has grown to 1,000 acres, the United States Forest Service said Wednesday. However, the blaze is now 80% contained.
The Lost Cove Fire, which began burning in Avery County, has burned to the containment lines throughout the fire area, and officials said only minimal interior hot spots remain where large, downed trees continue to burn.
The area experienced light rainfall and humid conditions on Friday, and more rain is expected. However, the overall outlook of firefighting operations will depend on if enough rain falls to help douse the flames.
"The fire is expected to continue to grow within the Lost Cove Wilderness Study Area until significant rain is received," the Forest Service statement explained.
"No homes or structures are threatened."
Higher humidity levels have helped "moderated fire behavior," which has been burning through the dry, leaf litter.
Both North Carolina and South Carolina remain in drought conditions because of a rainfall deficit. Despite forecast rainfall totals between one and three inches this week in North Carolina, it will not be enough to make up the region's rainfall deficit.
While a statewide burn ban has since been lifted since a large fire burned earlier this month on Pilot Mountain, brush conditions remain dry.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation but U.S. Forest Service officials believe it to be caused by human activity.
Around 20 firefighters from the US Forest Service are battling the fire assisted with local crews from departments including Collettsville and Lineville.
People are asked to avoid the Lost Cove Wilderness Study Area until the fire is fully contained.
The following trails remain closed due to the fire:
- Timber Ridge Trail (TR #261)
- Lost Cove Loop Trail (TR #262)
- Huntfish Falls Trail (TR #263)
- Darkside Cliffs Trail (TR #272)
- The Mountains to Sea Trail along Gragg Prong between Roseboro and Pineola Roads.
"This fire is in a really remote area," Lisa Jennings, public information officer of US Forest Service, told WCNC Charlotte Sunday night. "So we're expecting that it will increase in size within the containment area until we get a significant rainfall. But the important thing is that our firefighters have protected any homes and structures and so none of that is at risk anymore. It's just kind of burning in the forest."
A photo submitted by WCNC Charlotte viewer Kyle Kitchin to the WCNC Charlotte app showed the fire burning in the Harpers Creek Wilderness Area from his perspective atop Grandfather Mountain from the weekend.
A flight-tracking website showed officials using an aircraft to obtain aerial views of the fire inside Pisgah National Forest.
The Linville Fire Department is one of the agencies that has assisted the US Forest Service.
"We had crews in the area all night on standby to protect structures," the department said on social media over the weekend. "The fire has continued to spread and my understanding is more aircraft will be working today to try to contain the fire."
Smoke from the fire burning near Grandfather Mountain could impact air quality in the area.