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Firefighters respond to two Graham County fires

Firefighters responded to two wildfires late April 14 near Fontana Lake in Graham County. Both fires are burning on U.S. Forest Service land on the Nantahala National Forest Cheoah Ranger District and were 90 percent contained as of April 16.

The Flint Gap Fire, estimated at 387 acres as of April 16 with no additional growth expected, is burning in the Meeting House area along Fontana Lake. The fire was estimated at 50 acres April 15, with 13 firefighters on scene that day constructing fire lines and conducting burnout operations.

Dry, windy conditions combined with burnout operations led to an increase in fire size, as firefighters used back burns to remove unburned fuels between the active fire and containment lines. On April 16, 10 firefighters were working to hold containment lines and burn out remaining pockets of unburned fuel as needed. The cause of the Flint Gap Fire is under investigation.

The Left Loop Fire is burning along Lake Fontana near the Tsali Mountain Bike trail complex. The fire, caused by a lightning strike, is estimated at 20 acres and not expected to grow. Firefighters are continuing to monitor the fire and extinguish any remaining hot spots near the containment lines.

Even with the recent rain event, these fires are a reminder that we are still in spring wildfire season. Drying trends this week will increase fire danger in Western North Carolina. It only takes a couple sunny, low-humidity days to dry the leaves, sticks and logs that are fuel for wildfires.

While the N.C. Forest Service recently lifted its burn ban, fire restrictions remain in effect for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire is prohibited. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device is also prohibited. These restrictions are in effect until August 8, unless rescinded earlier due to changed conditions.

Review the National Forests in North Carolina website for updates and more information at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nfsnc, and on Twitter at twitter.com/NFsNCarolina.

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