Linville Gorge fire grows, officials hoping for rain

Linville Gorge fire grows, officials hoping for rain

MARION, NC (WBTV) - Ken Farmer shook his head as he looked at the rising smoke through the trees near his home in Burke County Tuesday. He has seen the area ravaged by wildfires before and is glad fire crews are on the line and working.

"They [are] doing a good job, they [are] right on top of it," Farmer said.

Crews say this latest fire in the Linville Gorge area has grown from 35 to 1500 acres and officials believe it will get bigger.

"The terrain is the biggest obstacle," said Lisa Jennings, public information officer for the US Forest Service.

The area in question, near Shortoff Mountain, is very steep.

"It's a cliff," Jennings said. That's why ground crews say they are staying back from the flames. Officials say it's not because they can't get to the fire itself, it's to be able to escape quickly if the fire changes direction.

Officials stress they are not allowing the fire to burn itself out to become a controlled burn, Jennings said. Crews say they are working to suppress the fire, but the terrain is making it difficult.

As a result, the Linville Gorge fire is being fought mostly through back burning operations. Firefighters say the goal is to starve the fire of any fuel that may be in its path.

So far, no homes have been threatened and the hope is that rain will fall Tuesday night.

Crews will continue to cut fire lines in case the rain does not come and the fire grows, Jennings said. Firefighters from as far away as Oregon are on the scene and will remain until the danger has passed.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.