46K acres burned in NC wildfires; new evacuations ordered as fire grows to 4,500 acres

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LAKE LURE, NC — A major wildfire near Lake Lure has now spread to nearly 4,500 acres — growing 1,000 acres in a day — and new evacuations were ordered Tuesday nearly one week after the fire started near the Party Rock area, officials said.

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North Carolina Forest Service officials released the updated damage assessment late Tuesday afternoon as dozens of other fires consumed 46,000 acres in the North Carolina mountains.

Just after the updated announcement Tuesday, Henderson County began evacuating residences near Highway 74-A and Shumont Road.

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

Also Tuesday, 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.

“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.

“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