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Photo courtesy of Skip Sickler.

Originally published: 2013-11-20 12:01:23
Last modified: 2013-11-20 12:12:54

Table Rock wildfire burns 2,200 acres

Caroline Harris / (

 The Table Rock wildfire continues to burn in the Linville Gorge area of Pisgah National Forest. At its height, the fire spread across 2,700 acres, burning in a massive line through Linville Gorge. The fire made for incredible but somber viewing at night. Thanks to rainfall on Sunday and the efforts of firefighters, as of presstime the fire is now 2,274 acres and is 40-percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire started in the Table Rock Picnic Area on Monday, Nov. 11, and spread quickly to the south and east. An individual spotted the fire on Tuesday morning and notified local authorities, who then notified the USFS. The USFS originally responded with about 20 firefighters to the 15-acre fire. The fire grew rapidly from 40 to 100 acres on Wednesday, Nov. 13, and to 300 acres by early Thursday, Nov. 14.

Following full-scale response by the USFS, the fire increased to 1,800 acres as a result of effective burnout operations, fighting fire with fire.

Firefighters worked to protect an Outward Bound facility that was threatened by the fire and were able to prevent it from burning.

By Friday, the fire jumped its southern flank and grew to 2,700 acres. At that point, there were 100 personnel on the job, both from local departments and from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. Most recently, a 20-person crew from the Oklahoma Bureau of Indian Affairs joined the effort.

Smoke was prevalent throughout the High Country since the fire began, but smoke dispersion was especially poor on Friday. The North Carolina Division of Air Quality issued a Code Orange due to the smoke. A superfog engulfed the area on Friday evening when fog combined with the smoke, limiting visibility and inhibiting firefighting efforts.

The firefighters used burnout techniques, bulldozing and brush clearing to fight the fire. Helicopters were brought in to fight the blaze from above.

On Saturday, firefighters were pulled back due to safety concerns over high winds. Reassessment of the situation resulted in the fire being designated a Type 2 situation from a Type 3. A Type 2 USFS team assumed command of the fire on Wednesday.

 The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire investigators would appreciate talking with the group who were camping at Table Rock Picnic Area last Monday, Veterans’ Day.  Investigators believe this group has information that would aid in the investigation. A reward may be offered for substantial information regarding this investigation and persons should contact Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp at (828) 442-2470 or the Grandfather Ranger District at (828) 652-2144.

To read the complete story, please pick up a copy of your hometown newspaper, The Avery Journal-Times, available at almost 100 locations in Newland, Banner Elk, Crossnore, Spruce Pine and Roan Mountain, Tenn. To subscribe to The Avery Journal-Times, please call (828) 733-0401 or click to