Rangers fighting western NC wildfires concerned about winds expected on Friday

LENOIR, N.C. (WBTV) — Forest rangers across the area are keeping a close eye on several wildfires.

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They said they’re worried that the predicted winds for Friday and continuing dry conditions will spread the fires.

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At South Mountain State Park in Burke County, Rangers said more than 300 acres are burning. The Forest Service said they have it 40 percent contained.
The department is bringing in single engine air tankers to help douse flames.

About 20 miles away in Morganton, residents said they started to smell and see the smoke Thursday evening.

“You could see it on the mountain how hazy it was when the sun was hitting it, said Diamond Bordner.

Kailey Gowan said her neighborhood in Morganton looked like “dark smokiness when trees get caught on fire or when someone lights up a forest,” who added, the smell “was pretty bad.”

RELATED: Evacuations now in 5 NC mountain counties as wildfires top 10,000 acres

In Caldwell County, people who live in the Highland Meadows sub-division off Zacks Fork Road were finally allowed back home Thursday evening.
Rangers said a 65 acre wild fire got too close – they said it’s the closest call they’ve had this year.

“We’re just going back in – it’s our weekend home. We’re just really pleased that the fire department did an amazing job and saved our homes” said Ron Freeman.

Freeman lives in Charlotte. He said his neighbor’s text about the wild fire near their homes left him a bit nervous.

“Sure – but I’m just real pleased. The fire department – no one got hurt. No one lost their home.”

“The fire got within 20 yards of one home, another half-dozen homes it got about one tenth of a mile” said Rusty Dellinger, a Caldwell County Ranger with the N.C. Forest Service.

Dellinger said Rangers have contained the fire and will spend the night keeping an eye on it. He said Friday’s wind and dry conditions are worrying him.

“That may contribute to some of those hidden embers potentially escaping and causing the fire to escape our containment lines and threaten homes once again” Dellinger said.

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