Wildfire rages deep inside NC’s Linville Gorge. Cause is found at abandoned campsite

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U.S. Forest Service map

A fire is burning out of control deep in western North Carolina’s Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, and the U.S. Forest Service is sending in crews to control its continued spread.

The cause is believed to be a campfire that was left unattended, forest service officials said in a Facebook post.

Five acres on the northeast side of the gorge have so far been consumed, said the U.S. Forest Service in a Monday Facebook post. The gorge is about 110 miles northwest of Charlotte in Burke County.

The fire was first reported Sunday “in a hard to reach location, 2.5 miles down into the gorge,” said the U.S. Forest Service.

“Firefighters returned (Monday) morning and are working to contain the fire to a small area,” said a press release. “Firefighters are dealing with steep terrain and thick vegetation as they search for control points.”

Forest service officials have closed access to the gorge just north of the Hawksbill trail and east of the Linville River. Visitors are being warned that “firefighters will be using area roads to support suppression operations.”

“Hikers can expect to see and smell smoke,” said a forest service release. “Additional trail closures may be put in place if conditions change.”

The Jonas Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and the N.C. Forest Service are partnering to put out the fire, officials said.

Linville Gorge, a part of of the Pisgah National Forest, is a remote wilderness area where the Linville River descends more than 2,000 feet toward Lake James, according to VisitNC.com. The gorge includes more than 12,000 acres of forest, 39 miles of trails and the 90-foot-high Linville Falls, according to DiscoveryBurkeCounty.com.

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