FRANKLIN - The Dicks Creek Fire burning in Nantahala National Forest and on private land near Sylva was 60 percent contained at 374 acres Wednesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Firefighters were patrolling and mopping up along containment lines throughout the day Wednesday, said spokeswoman Cathy Dowd with the Forest Service. They were also checking and mitigating hazardous trees in the area. The fire has been burning on steep, rocky terrain.
Officials said all hand and dozer lines had been constructed by Tuesday. Firefighters were engaged in holding and burnout operations.
As of Wednesday the fire was minimal, smoldering with hot spots inside the containment lines, according to a news release.
Additionally, local fire departments have been on scene to provide protection to homes and other structures along Dicks Creek Road. No structures are in danger, according to Dowd.
The fire is southeast of Dicks Creek Road, which remains open to local residents. Officials have asked others to stay away from the area for firefighter and public safety.
Smoke was still visible on U.S. 74 near Sylva Wednesday. It was expected to worsen as temperatures increased throughout the day and heavy fuels burned within the fire perimeter, according to U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Deanna Younger.
The fire was discovered Sunday morning and quickly grew to around 250 acres by Monday. Firefighters had the flames 40 percent contained by Tuesday morning.
The cause remained under investigation Wednesday, but is believed to be human-caused.
Officials have asked residents to be considerate of incident vehicles and personnel in the area along with flying drones. Drones could interfere with any air attack resources that are on standby.
About 72 firefighters have been on scene from the U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management Lakeview, Oregon, with additional personnel from Jackson County Emergency Management and sheriff's office.
Another wildfire has been burning in Nantahala National Forest in the Chunky Gal area north of the Shooting Creek community, according to officials. The Boteler Fire, spanning 1 acre, was staffed with local resources and a helicopter Tuesday.
Firefighters have also been on scene in the Linville Gorge area responding to a 10-acre fire that was reported Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
There was no update Wednesday on how much of the fire was contained but personnel remained on scene monitoring the flames, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Jennings.
"We have a good handle on the fire," she said. "It's just so dry out there. We're watching it closely and making sure the wind doesn't pick up."
This fire is along Old NC 105, north of Lake James in Burke County. The Paddy’s Creek Fire is in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.
Firefighters have constructed containment lines and have been holding the fire during strong winds. A helicopter has also been on scene.
Officials said no structures were threatened Tuesday.
Old N.C. 105 north of Paddy’s Creek Road was closed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to the intersection with Forest Service Road (FSRD) 106. Motorists are asked to heed closures and to stay away from the fire area. At this time, FSRD 106 remains open and can be accessed from the north end of Old N.C. 105.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation but is suspected to be human-caused. The U.S. Forest Service is leading fire response efforts, with assistance from Burke County REACT, North Cove VFD and N.C. Forest Service.
Officials are encouraging residents and forest visitors to use extreme caution with outdoor fires this fall.
Western North Carolina is in a severe drought, and fire danger is extremely high. Dry and windy conditions are predicted to remain in the region through early December.
Fall wildfire season typically lasts from mid-October until mid-December, the time of year when people do a lot of yard work that may include burning leaves and yard debris, according to North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. These fires sometimes escape and start wildfires. Fireplace ash disposal and vegetation on electrical fences can also be problematic in the fall.
Officials recommend to always be sure ashes are dead out, and always dispose of them in a metal container with a cover. As dry as it is in Western North Carolina, smokers also need to be careful with cigarette disposal because even the smallest spark can start a wildfire.
Troxler also reminds people that when building a campfire, they should use existing fire rings if possible and clear a safe area around them of at least 10 feet. Campers should also be sure to never leave campfires unattended, and ensure they are completely out before leaving.
There are many factors to consider before burning debris or lighting a campfire. Always check the weather prior to burning, and follow state and local regulations. Have an adequate safe distance from other flammable material, especially wooded areas and flammable material that may lead to houses. With all fires, be sure to tend to it until the debris pile or campfire is completely out.
Careless debris burning is the top cause of wildfires in North Carolina. The N.C. Forest Service encourages residents considering debris burning to contact their local county forest ranger. The ranger can offer technical advice and explain the best options to help maximize the safety to people, property, and the forest.
More tips on protecting your property can be found at www.firewise.org.