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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Nantahala Wildfires Update
Saturday November 5th

Tactical Burn at the Boteler Fire to Protect Homes

Here is another press release from the US Forest Service on the various fires in our region. The information does not include fires that started today, including one that started in the Qualla area during the time the press release was prepared for posting on this website.

US Forest Service
Nov 5, 2016

In a historically active fall fire season, several fires are burning on the Tusquitee and Nantahala Ranger Districts of the Nantahala National Forest in southwestern North Carolina. When fires are discovered, firefighters try to put them out immediately, but in many situations it is unsafe for them to engage the fire directly at the fire's edge due to steep, rugged terrain and extremely flammable vegetation including dried leaves on trees and on the ground. Helicopters drop water on the fires to slow their progression, but firefighters must build firelines with hand tools and bulldozers away from the fire's edge to contain the fires.

Safety of firefighters and the public is the highest priority in managing all fires. Homes and other structures are assessed, and where it is safe to do so, protected from approaching fires with firelines, portable water tank, hose lays and sprinkler systems.

Boteler: Firefighters improved firelines on the west and south flanks of the fire and burned vegetation around homes around Mill Creek to protect them from the advancing wildfire. Fire was most active in the Pinnacle and Mill Creek areas.

Knob: The fire grew by almost 100 acres as the result of firing operations to out burn vegetation between the fire and established firelines. Smoke may be highly visible from State Hwy. 64 west of Franklin. No structures are currently threatened.

Dick's Creek: Cooler temperatures and gusty winds knocked down leaves that ignited and blew across firelines last night. "It's the most extreme fire behavior I have ever seen in hardwood timber", said Brian Browning, assistant fire management officer with the Nantahala Ranger District. Fire crews responded and stayed on the fire overnight. Fresh crews relieved them this morning. The fire spread from tree top to tree top in what is known as a "running crown fire", which is not common in this area. Area structures are being assessed.

Tellico: The fire grew from 50 acres to more than 500 acres Friday evening as firefighters attempted to complete containment lines. Structures in the area are being assessed.

Jones Gap, Wine Spring, Cliffside and Moses Creek: Firefighters improved, monitored and patrolled containment lines.

Planned Events
The Southern Area Red Team assumed management of all fires in the Nantahala Ranger District at 7:00 am today.

Boteler: Firefighters will maintain control lines and patrol, secure, and mop up areas where they burned around homes to protect them. They will conduct more burning around structures if necessary and continue other structure protection measures.

Knob: Firefighters will build firelines, burn vegetation between the fire and control lines, and mop up previously burned areas.

Dick's Creek: Firefighters will focus on protecting structures and building new firelines as well as reinforcing existing ones.

Tellico: Firefighters will hold containment lines on Wesser Bald Road and Tellico Road and burn vegetation between the lines and the fire. Crews will also build fireline along the Appalachian Trail. A fixed-wing water tanker has been ordered to support the fire.

Cliffside: Crews will burn vegetation between the fire and control lines, and mop up previously burned areas.
May Branch: Fire lines are being reinforced today. No structures are threatened.

Jones Gap, Wine Spring, Cliffside and Moses Creek: Continued monitoring and patrolling.

Ten additional crews are expected to arrive through Monday.

Additional Information

FireAcreage% ContainedStart DateClosures
Boteler, Boteler Peak near Hayesville97210October 25
Knob, southwest of Franklin in the Nantahala Mountains33028November 2Appalachian Trail closed from Rock Gap to Winding Stairs Gap. Old 64 Murphy Road closed from its west junction of US 64 to Forest Service Road 67 leading to Standing Indian Campground. Rock Gap may be accessed from the south by going     through Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Standing Indian Campground is OPEN.
Tellico, northwest of Franklin in the Nantahala Mountains56739November 3
Appalachian Trail closed from Nantahala River to Burningtown Gap.
Wesser Creek Trail is also closed.
May Branch Sheep Mountain, northeast of Cullowhee17550November 3
Moss Knob southwest of Cullowhee5November 3Moss Knob Shooting Range is closed due to firefighters
Cliffside 3 miles west of Highlands near Cliffside Lake Recreation Area10480November 2Cliffside Day Use Area closed for the season.
Dick's Creek northwest of Sylva37480October 23
Moses Creek3380October 28
Jones Gap, northwest of Highlands1780October 29Bartram Trail, from Hickory Knoll Road to State Highway 106, will remain closed through this weekend due to mop up operations and potential hazard assessments
Wine Spring, 15 miles west of Franklin above Dirty John Shooting Range95November 3Bartram Trail is closed between Wine Springs Bald and Nantahala Lake

Visibility along Highway 64 may be limited at times due to smoke. With more people and equipment arriving to fight fires in the area, motorists should exercise caution when driving. HIGH Fire Danger today! NO Campfires allowed except in developed campgrounds with fees. Homeowners can prevent property damage from fires by keeping flammable materials such as woodpiles or dead leaves away from your home or propane tanks.

The Nantahala National Forest has the following fire restrictions in place:
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire is not allowed outside of developed campgrounds where a fee is paid.
The use of portable lanterns, stoves, or heating equipment that use gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed. Charcoal fires are not allowed.
Permissible fires must be confined to metal fire rings and grills that are provided in the National Forest only at the locations listed at the link below.


A sponsorship for today has been made on behalf of the Roy Cooper for Governor Campaign.

You may find out more about where Roy Cooper stands on the issues at

*note* Sponsorships by candidates or campaigns for the 2016 election cycle will only be accepted for the period between Oct 20th and November 8th.