Officials give update on progress extinguishing 434-acre fire in NC

Officials said the fire started in a wooded area on Friday, Nov. 4.
State of Emergency issued as crews work to contain 431-acre fire in NC
State of Emergency issued as crews work to contain 431-acre fire in NC
Published: Nov. 4, 2023 at 11:50 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 11, 2023 at 11:31 AM EST
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EDNEYVILLE, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - Henderson County officials continue to make progress on containing the Poplar Drive fire, which is impacting more than 400 acres.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said crews are working to contain the fire that started in a wooded area near East Poplar Drive and Kyles Creek Road Friday afternoon.

According to officials, the Edneyville Fire Department arrived on the scene on Nov. 3 and found a nearly 3-acre fire at around 3:40 p.m. on Friday. Officials worked to contain the fire throughout the night. However, around 5 a.m. on Nov. 4, fire conditions changed rapidly as humidity levels were in the low teens and wind picked up to around 20 miles per hour.

Governor Cooper issued a State of Emergency for the entire state on Wednesday.

As of Nov. 12, officials said the fire is impacting 434 acres and is 70 percent contained. Percent containment represents sections of the fire line that pose no escape risk without further action from firefighters.

Officials added that they successfully burned vegetation near Kyles Creed Road on Nov. 9 to reinforce the control lines at this section of the fire. On, Nov. 10 firefighters stated that they utilized the rain to mop up smoldering pockets around the fire and reinforce containment lines using dozers and hand digging.

“The mop-up process is going to take some time, but we have a drone flying the fire at night to find the greatest sources of heat and we are trying our best to tackle those with as much water and personnel as possible,” said Operations Section Chief Dwayne Vigil. “The rhododendron and brush are thick and still have a good bit of leaves on. The soil around the roots is loose due to the fire eating away the organic material around those roots, causing them to be weak. If the vegetation falls over and the leaves fall onto the smoldering areas, the fire could reignite and throw embers. In some areas the vegetation is so thick, firefighters have to cut their way into the brush to get to the heat to put water on it.”

Crews are also utilizing drones to find hot spots within the wildfire. We spent time with one of the crews on Thursday to learn more about their methods.

Drones have become and effective tool for firefighters on the front lines trying to contain the fires in Henderson County

Currently, 75 structures are in the fire containment zone. The cause of the fire is currently unknown as officials investigate.

Officials said one home, two cabins and three outbuildings have been destroyed while another home sustained damage. Authorities are continually assessing the needs of structures as area homes remain threatened.

Officials stated that two firefighters working on the fire were sent to the hospital with minor injuries, but they were later released following treatment.

Smoke from the fire has made its way into the Upstate of South Carolina. Our FOX Carolina meteorologists will continue to monitor the situation.

However, an Orange Air Quality Alert has been issued for Hendersonville and is expected to improve in the coming days.

The N.C. Forest Service issued a total burn ban for 14 counties in western North Carolina due to hazardous forest fire conditions.

Burn ban issued for 16 additional counties in Western North Carolina due to hazardous forest...
Burn ban issued for 16 additional counties in Western North Carolina due to hazardous forest fire conditions(N.C. Forest Service)

“With the long-range forecast and conditions on the ground showing no improvement, expanding the ban on open burning to additional counties is a necessary precaution,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We keep a close eye on weather, fire danger and fuel conditions, especially this time of year. We’re making daily assessments, and the burn ban will be expanded into Piedmont counties and further east if needed. If you’re in a county that does not fall under the ban, think twice about any outdoor burning until we see significant, soaking rain across the state.”

For anyone looking to donate to crews on the scene, donations can be dropped off at Fruitland Baptist Church near Gilliam Road. Here’s a list of items that crews need:

To give an electronic donation directly to the fire department, click here.

The public is encouraged to use caution in the area around Fruitland Road and Fruitland Bible Institute due to the heavy presence of emergency personnel.

MORE NEWS: Burning bans across western NC