The U.S. Forest Service has been working with local emergency responders to contain a wildfire that began burning on the north side of McDowell County’s Dobson Knob on July 28. When first reported, the fire was estimated to be six acres and eventually grew to cover approximately 10. Officials reported this past Friday that the fire was 50 percent contained thanks to significant rainfall passing over the area just before the weekend.
“Fire activity moderated over the past 48 hours, as humidity increased, and the fire spread into areas with in-tact tree canopy and less receptive fuels,” the U.S. Forest Service wrote in a public statement. “The fire has consumed much of the large, downed fuels on the rocky knob, and while the perimeter of the fire remained active prior to the rain event, fire spread has been minimal. Significant rainfall overnight has extinguished any active flames, however, hotspots remain.”
According to the U.S. Forest Service fire managers have determined the cause of the fire to be a lightning strike in a rocky and remote part of the mountain that has a history of wildfires. Officials expected containment to remain at 50 percent or more in the coming days until they can determine if the rain fully extinguishes hot spots.
“Firefighting efforts are helped by the wet, soaking rain,” the U.S. Forest Service stated at the end of last week. “In order to fully extinguish remaining hot spots, a soaking rain over several days is needed. Even with a long-term rainfall event, there is still potential for large burning logs to hold heat and re-ignite when conditions dry.”
As of now, nearby trails will remain closed until further notice, including Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the north fork of the Catawba River to Dobson Knob Road on the west side of Linville Gorge.
Cover photo by Hunter Campbell, USFS