Wildfire near Blowing Rock expands up to 800 acres, forces evacuations

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. (WNCN) — A wildfire near Blowing Rock that broke out in the last 24 hours has already consumed between 700 to 800 acres and some residents have been evacuated, officials say.

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The blaze, called the Horton Fire, was first reported around 7:30 p.m. Monday about four miles east of Blowing Rock near the Watauga-Caldwell county line.

Several fire agencies responded Monday night and fought the fire all night long.

Firefighters believe the fire, which is 20 percent contained, was possibly set on purpose in two locations, WBTV and WSOC reported.

Residents living along Watson Drive were evacuated and residents along Dugger Fire Tower Road and Flat Mountain Road should prepare for “imminent mandatory evacuations,” fire officials said in a statement.

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Some homeowners are worried after flames came within 100 feet of several homes, WBTV reported.

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“If residents feel their safety is in danger … they (should) self-evacuate to a safe location,” officials said.

The Blue Ridge Parkway in the area was closed because of the wildfire.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, fire crews from Alexander County, Avery County, Catawba County and Wilkes County were added to the efforts to fight the blaze. Nineteen fire agencies are battling the fire as officials said the wildfire could expand to 1,000 acres.

Fire officials said that the main objective Tuesday is to contain the fire, which is burning in steep, heavily wooded areas.

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A Red Cross shelter was set up at the Alliance Bible Fellowship Church in Boone. Evacuees with pets may take their pets to the Watauga County Humane Society.

Traffic is causing problems in the area and officials requested that people who do not live in the Blue Ridge Mountain Club/Upper Sampson area not “go sightseeing” in the area.

“Traffic congestion from people trying to see the fire is hampering emergency operations,” officials said.

Tuesday morning the Watauga County Board of Commissioners declared a county state of emergency for the Horton Fire. The declaration frees up additional resources that can be used in response to the fire.

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