Size: 2,919 acres
Start Date: 10/23/2023
Point of Origin: Collett Ridge (4 miles south of Andrews, NC)
Total Personnel: 112
Resources: Two 20-person hand crew, 9 Engines, 1 water tender, 2 helicopters, 1 air attack platform, and overhead personnel
Unified Command: U.S. Forest Service and North Carolina Forest Service
Structures Threatened: 0
Structures Lost: 0
First Responder Injuries: 0
Current Situation: Yesterday the fire continued to grow, mainly to the southwest and southeast along the ridgeline, multiple aircraft were used to slow the progression of the fire. Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs) dropped 12,000 gallons of retardant on the southwestern corner and a helicopter was used to perform water drops on the southeastern corner. By slowing the fire spread, this provides firefighters time to establish containment lines.
The fire is burning is very steep, forested, and remote terrain making it very difficult to access directly, therefore crews must utilize indirect lines that the fire will grow to. These containment lines can be natural like a creek or man-made such as a road, a handline (which firefighters dig into the ground) or a dozer line which creates a break in fuels, holding the fire to that area.
Today a 20-person hand crew will work on the east side of the fire near Kimsey Cove to establish a handline that will tie into the completed dozer line. Burn out operations were completed yesterday within the communities to the north of the fire, firefighters will remain to monitor and patrol the area today and extinguish any hotspots that may remain. VLATs will be used again today to drop retardant on the southwestern corner of the fire north of Big Stump and White Oak Knob, in order to slow the fire spread.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Mostly sunny, temperatures into the 70’s, low humidity, and low winds. South westerly winds of 7-10mph with gusts up to 12 mph. These dry conditions will continue to increase fire activity across the fire area.
Smoke and Air Quality: The inversion layer, which causes the smoke to settle into the valley, is expected to lift by mid-day, improving visibility and air quality in the river valley. Per the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Cherokee, Clay and Macon counties may experience Code Red air quality conditions, defined as air that is unhealthy for anyone to breathe. Residents should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors in these areas. Anyone sensitive to air pollution, including children, older adults and people with asthma, should avoid outdoor exertion. Air quality information available at airquality.climate.ncsu.edu/
Closures: The Rim Trail is temporarily closed for approximately 7 miles from Big Stump to Shinbone. There are no road or area closures at this time however, the public should avoid the area so fire crews and resources can work safely. As the fire continues to grow road and area closures may be necessary for public safety.
Burn Ban: Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits for Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania counties effective 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 5, until further notice.
Evacuations: No Evacuations at this time. Evacuations will be issued by the Cherokee County Emergency Management Office. To sign up for alerts visit www.nixle.com or text your zip code to “888777” to automatically sign up.
For updates about the Collett Ridge Fire, please follow the National Forests in North Carolina at U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina for additional updates.