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Chimney Rock Fire Burns 125 Acres (With Photo, Video)

July 31, 2008

By Allison Flynn, The Shelby Star, N.C.

Jul. 31–A lightning strike Tuesday night has resulted in a 125-acre fire in the Chimney Rock area of Rutherford County.

According to Bruce MacDonald with the N.C. Division of Forest Resources, the fire is located on mostly private property adjacent to Chimney Rock Park.

“What we have is burning above and below the rock cliff, so it’s almost like having two fires,” MacDonald said.

Dozers and bridge crews, along with state park hand crews and volunteer fire departments, have been working to fight the fire, which was about 20 percent contained on Thursday afternoon.

Units from Chimney Rock, Bills Creek, Fairfield, Shingle Hollow, Cherry Mountain and Edneyville are aiding the forest service in structure support. One large house was threatened, but is safe now, said Ron Morgan, Town of Lake Lure Fire and Emergency Management Coordinator.

The bottom of the fire is located in Rutherford County, but to get to the top, you have to drive into Henderson County to approach it, Morgan said.

“It takes about 45 minutes to drive the length of it,” he said.

Portions of the fire are located on the property in Chimney Rock Park, MacDonald said, although currently there is no threat to the tourist areas of the park.

“We’ll certainly not allow that to become an issue,” he said.

Visitors to the park on Wednesday noticed the flames and were concerned, said Meghan Rogers, public relations and events manager at Chimney Rock Park.

“We had questions because there were helicopters flying near the park to get water from the lake,” Rogers said.

“We weren’t sure about the threat and definitely were concerned,” she added.

Dry conditions throughout Western North Carolina have exacerbated the situation, MacDonald said.

“These rock cliffs are always tricky, but we’re not in fire season right now. It has been made worse by the drought,” he said.

Storms rolled through the area, but there was not enough rain to help put out the fire.

“We don’t know if there were any other lightning strikes. Those typically show up later,” Morgan said.

“This is the third fire due to lightning in a week and a half in Lake Lure,” he added.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Shelby Star, N.C.

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