46K acres burned in NC wildfires; new Lake Lure evacuations ordered as fire continues to grow

NEW UPDATE: NC wildfires near 50,000 acres as Lake Lure fire spreads to evacuated areas

LAKE LURE, N.C. (WNCN) — A major wildfire near Lake Lure has now spread to 5,714 acres Wednesday — growing 1,000 acres in a day — and new evacuations were ordered nearly one week after the fire started near the Party Rock area, officials said.

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The Party Rock fire is only 19-percent contained as crews use a helicopter to dump water in an attempt to gain ground on it.

Fires have consumed more than 46,000 acres in the North Carolina mountains.

Henderson County began evacuating residences near Highway 74-A and Shumont Road as fire neared residences and businesses.

Before the latest evacuations, the massive North Carolina wildfires had already forced more than 1,000 people from their homes — most in the area of Lake Lure.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like this. It’s very, very frightening. And the thought of losing everything you own is never a fun thing,” said evacuated homeowner Linda Kresl.

UPDATE: NC wildfires near 50,000 acres as Lake Lure fire spreads to evacuated areas

Firefighters taking part in the Structure Protection Program were working to clear away brush and debris from homes and businesses in the path of the fire.

The Forest Service said crews need room to work and safety is the No. 1 priority.

“This is definitely the largest thing we’ve ever seen,” said Lowell Griffin, a firefighter with Edneyville Fire Department in North Carolina. “It’s the largest thing I’ve ever been a part of in Western North Carolina.”

Among the 323 firefighters working the blaze near Lake Lure were six firefighters from Cary.

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They were working the overnight shift and Tuesday afternoon they tried to get some rest on cots. They’re tired, but more importantly want to be here to help this community.

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“All firemen have the inner need to help, so when the opportunity came, up we jumped at the chance and got to go,” said Captain Lee Falk of the Cary Fire Department.

No structures have burned down since the outbreak of the wildfire last week. Officials say the rough terrain and weather conditions could fuel the fire well into March.

The latest evacuations in Henderson County will include areas of Highway 9 between the intersections of Highway 74-A and Shumont Road. The evacuation notice will include all roads that connect to Highway 9.

Residents can shelter at Grace Lutheran Church, 1245 6th Avenue West in Hendersonville. The Red Cross is operating this shelter; the shelter phone number is 828-693-5605.

Brian Hanes, the North Carolina Forest Service’s public information officer said there are nearly 20 wildfires burning in our state’s mountains.

Other large wildfires in western North Carolina include:

  • Tellico fire – 13,679 acres
  • Boteler fire – 8,967 acres
  • Maple Springs fire – 7,705 acres
  • Chestnut Knob fire – 4,600 acres

— WSPA contributed to this report

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