Caldwell wildfire still burning, backfire operations underway - | WBTV Charlotte

Caldwell wildfire still burning, backfire operations underway

CALDWELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

The "High Eagle Fire" in Caldwell County is now officially 90 acres.

Flames broke out Monday atop a mountain just off Highway 321 near the Patterson Community.

Officials had hoped rain Tuesday would help put out the flames – and the rain did, for a little while anyway.

"We just didn't get enough to put it out," said Roger Miller of the North Carolina Forest Service.

By Wednesday morning, the flames were moving again – smoke poured off the mountain.

Officials say the fire is in a tough place to put in ground crews, but several groups have been sent up the mountain anyway.

Fire crews cut lines around the fire, but there are 170 acres within those lines and officials say it's possible everything within those lines will burn.

To save as much property as they could, fire crews set their own fires Wednesday.

Burnouts, as they call them, are designed to rob the main fire of fuel to spread. With the wind blowing towards the main fire, crews set leaves along the lines cut by bulldozers afire. The effect, they hope, will be to widen the fire lines they cut and prevent the main fire from spreading if the winds change direction.

The concern is that humidity will continue to drop and winds pick up over the next few days. "We have a window now to burn out the fuels and we are taking advantage of it," said one firefighter.

The High Eagle Fire is one of two wildfires firefighters in Caldwell County are battling this week.

The first fire broke out Friday in the Globe Mountain section of the county – near Blowing Rock - and spread to more than 150 acres by Saturday afternoon.

Containment lines were set up around that first fire. By Monday morning, officials believed it was under control.

More than a dozen firefighters remained at the fire to keep watch.

The High Eagle Fire broke out shortly after the response to the first fire was scaled back.

This fall has seen the lowest rain total in years, said officials, and that needs to change or more fires will break out they say.

No burning ban is in effect but Forest Rangers urge people not to burn items outdoors until weather conditions improve.

The cause of both fires is still under investigation.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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