NEBO — Less than two days after a wildfire was reported at the end of the Brushy Ridge Trail near the Linville Ridge in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, firefighters have completely contained the blaze.
“Firefighters were successful in direct suppression efforts to contain the Brushy Ridge Fire, which is now 100 percent contained,” the U.S. Forest Service said in an April 30 statement. “A total of 52 firefighters worked to contain the fire (April 29). Hiking 2.5 miles down into the Gorge along the Brushy Ridge trail, the Asheville Interagency Hotshot crew dug fireline around the fire to limit its spread to a small area along the Linville River. The final containment area of the fire is three acres. Today (April 30), fire crews returned to the fire to monitor and mop up remaining hot spots near the fire lines.”
The fire was first reported at 3:44 p.m. on April 28, with USFS crews first reaching the blaze at 6 p.m., according to USFS spokesperson Lisa Jennings. The USFS confirmed the cause to be an abandoned campfire.
“Anyone with information about the cause of the fire is encouraged to call the Grandfather Ranger District Law Enforcement Officer at 828-652-2144,” the USFS stated.
Firefighters hiked the area in the night of April 28 to assess the fire and determine strategies for suppressions, returning in the morning and working to contain the fire to its area. The USFS noted that firefighters dealt with steep terrain and thick vegetation.
The Brushy Ridge Trail will remain closed until the fire is fully extinguished, the USFS said. All other trail closures have been lifted.
“While there are currently no active flames, hot spots may remain in the interior of the fire until significant rainfall is received,” the USFS stated.
Located in Burke County near Morganton, the 11,000-plus-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness Area is a popular hiking and camping destination.
With over 1,400 feet in elevation change, forest fires can be hard to effectively combat. Previous Linville Gorge fires, such as the White Creek Fire in March 2017, grew to 5,538 acres before being fully contained.
Jennings said that visitors need to be careful with campfires, noting it’s still wildfire season.
“As we move into the summer camping season, the U.S. Forest Service reminds visitors to be careful with fire,” the USFS’s April 30 statement said. “Make sure all flames are extinguished with water or soil and coals are out cold before leaving your campsite.”
Along with the Asheville Interagency Hotshot crew, the USFS response effort is supported by the Jonas Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and the North Carolina Forest Service.