Cold front approaching NC ‘will support rapid fire growth,’ officials say

Photo courtesy Kathy VanRyn
Photo courtesy Kathy VanRyn

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A cold front with no rain and an increase in winds is expected to hit North Carolina Saturday – bringing no relief to crews fighting mountain wildfires.

CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE FIRES
CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE FIRES

The Party Rock Fire, which neared 3,500 acres and remains at 15 percent containment, according to the North Carolina Forest Service.

That fire has forced about 1,000 people to evacuate Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Bat Cave and Rumbling Bald Resort, officials say.

While the weather over the last couple days hasn’t been conducive to fire growth, the Forest Service said that is about to change.

CLICK FOR FULL NC WILDFIRES COVERAGE

Saturday’s cold front is expected to bring dry air and winds that could change the direction of the fires, said CBS North Carolina Storm Team meteorologist Alyssa Corfont. Humidity levels are predicted to drop below 30 percent and temperatures will rise into the low 70s.

Wind directions will begin to change Thursday as a smaller front passes through.

Those wind changes could push the fires north and northeast toward Weed Patch Mountain and the Gray Rock community.

“These weather conditions will support rapid fire growth,” the Forest Service said.

fire

Fire officials told CBS North Carolina’s Amy Culter the Party Rock fire is moving slowly, allowing firefighters to clear leaves and other debris from around nearby homes.

There are about 450 firefighters from more than 100 different agencies working around the clock to try and contain the fire.

A total of 39 firefighters from Wake County are at Lake Lure to help contain the fires. With them are nine brush trucks and six engines from 13 Wake County fire departments.

A crew from Cary worked the overnight shift into Tuesday morning.

The Cary Fire Department brought six firefighters and two trucks.

“All firemen have the inner need to help. So when the opportunity came up, we jumped at the chance,” said Cpt. Lee Falk with CFD.

On Monday night, while surveying fire lines on the Party Rock Fire, a firefighter was injured when his ATV flipped, officials say. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and is expected to recover.

In addition to the Lake Lure-area evacuations, mandatory evacuations were already issued in parts of five other North Carolina counties: Henderson, Graham, Swain, Clay and Macon.

The fire near Lake Lure has grown from just 344 acres to 10 times that size in less than a week.

Here is a list of the some of the largest fires:

Tellico Fire – 13,676 acres
Boteler Fire – 8,925 acres
Maple Springs – 7,515 acres
Chestnut Knob – 3,900 acres
Party Rock Fire – 3,457 acres
Ferebee Fire – 3,175 acres
Knob Fire – 1,130 acres

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