Western North Carolina wildfire expands to more than 5,100 acres as crews work to contain it, 178 personnel responding

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The fire continued to spread westward toward Flat Branch and Collett Creek on Sunday.

ANDREWS, N.C. — UPDATE (11/10): A wildfire in Western North Carolina expanded to almost 5,116 acres by Nov. 10. The U.S. Forest Service also said it was 5% contained.

The Forest Service said the Collett Ridge Fire started on Oct. 23 around four miles south of Andrews, NC. It said three 20-person crews were responding with type-four and type-six engines, water tenders, dozers, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft an air attack platform and overhead personnel.

A previous release also said 16 structures were threatened, mostly on the northeast side of the fire. According to the release, firefighters were working to protect the structures. It also said no structures were lost and no injuries were reported by first responders.

On Tuesday, firefighters started establishing a handling near the Macon and Cherokee County line, on the east side of the fire, tying in the line to a previously made dozer line. They used aircraft on the east and south sides of the fire dropping special materials to prevent it from spreading as well as water for a combined 54,000 gallons.

On Wednesday, they said aircraft would be used in the northeast to slow the fire’s progression there. Firefighters also started working to prepare structures in nearby communities, while also establishing a handling in the Kimsey Cove area. Crews were working to establish containment lines on the western side, while also using aircraft there.

By Friday, leaders said the Southern Area Blue Incident Management Team assumed command of the response. To the south, firefighters were strengthening and securing the containment line along Fires Creek Road. On the northern side, crews were establishing handling and dozer lines.

“Until sufficient rain occurs, fire activity and growth are expected to continue with areas of heavy fuels potentially causing flareups,” responders said in a release. 

Leaders issued a burn ban on all open burning and canceled burning permits for Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania counties until further notice.

Road closures are in effect from Big Stamp east to Shinbone Ridge to Signal Bald. Another closure is in effect from the intersection of Little Fires Creek Road, 340B, and Fires Creek Road, 340. The Rim Trail is temporarily closed for approximately 7 miles from Big Stamp to Shinbone.

Crews are working to contain a 75-acre wildfire in Western North Carolina a week after it started.

The fire is burning at Collett Ridge, which is 4 miles south of Andrews, North Carolina. As of Oct. 30, no structures have been threatened by the fire and no one has been hurt, and firefighters are working to ensure it stays that way.

The fire is still 0% contained as firefighters attack it from the ground with five engines and a 20-person crew. Two helicopters and an air attack platform were also ready if needed to provide support. A total of 54 people have responded to the fire since it began on Oct. 23. 

The U.S. Forest Service said Monday the fire continued to expand westward toward Flat Branch and Collett Creek, and smoke was visible along Highway 74 due to the dry leaves on the ground.

Crews made a contingency line from Lords Way down toward Smith Branch to back up primary lines to increase the probability of containing the fire. Engine crews helped prep structures by clearing leaves around them and cutting back overhanging branches. 

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On Monday, crews began bulldozing around buildings and strengthening containment lines by removing leaves. 

“During this time of year as the leaves continue to fall, a containment line can become covered with leaves in a matter of hours in some places,” the USFS said.