Collett Ridge Fire Update 11/8/2023

Release Date: 

Size: 3,918 acres

Containment: 0%

Start Date: 10/23/2023

Point of Origin: Collett Ridge (4 miles south of Andrews, NC)

Total Personnel: 120

Resources: Two 20-person hand crew, 11 Engines, 1 water tender, 2 helicopters, 1 air attack platform, and overhead personnel

Unified Command: U.S. Forest Service and North Carolina Forest Service

Structures Threatened: 0

Structures Lost: 0

First Responder Injuries: 0

Current Situation: Yesterday firefighters started establishing handline near the Macon and Cherokee County Line on the east side of the fire, tying in the line to the established dozer line in the Kimsey Cove area. Aircraft was used on the east and south sides of the fire, dropping retardant and water in order to slow the progression of the fire, dropping a combined total of 54,000 gallons of water and retardant.

On the southside of the fire, crews were able to successfully catch a slop-over, where fire crossed the line near Shinbone, and continued to establish a handline off of the Rim Trail. On the southwest side of the fire crews established handline from Big Stamp to Cold Spring Branch and assessed the area for potential burnout operations. The northwest side of the fire is currently burning west of White Oak Knob, along the ridgetop.

Today aircraft will be used to the northeast to drop water in order to slow the progression of the fire, while firefighters work on structure prep within nearby communities and continue establishing handline in the Kimsey Cove area. On the west side of the fire crews will scout the area near Cold Branch, Snyder Branch, and McClellan Creek for areas to establish containment lines. Aircraft will be used along the west side to slow the fire progression. 

Weather and Fire Behavior: Sunny with temperatures into the 80's, which is unseasonably warm for the area and increased humidity. Southwest winds of 6-12mph with gusts up to 16 mph. Despite the increased humidity, dry conditions will persist due to the increased temperatures and fire activity and growth is expected to continue.

Smoke and Air Quality: The inversion layer, which causes the smoke to settle into the valley, is expected to lift by mid-day, improving visibility and air quality in the river valley. Per the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Cherokee, Clay and Macon counties may experience Code Red air quality conditions, defined as air that is unhealthy for anyone to breathe. Residents should consider limiting prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors in these areas. Anyone sensitive to air pollution, including children, older adults and people with asthma, should avoid outdoor exertion. Air quality information available at airquality.climate.ncsu.edu/

Closures: For public and firefighter safety the following road and area closures are in effect due to increased fire activity and suppression operations in the area from Big Stamp east to Shinbone Ridge to Signal Bald and a road closure is in effect from the intersection of Little Fires Creek Road, 340B, and Fires Creek Road, 340. The Rim Trail is temporarily closed for approximately 7 miles from Big Stamp to Shinbone.

Burn Ban: Due to increased fire risk, the N.C. Forest Service has issued a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits for Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain and Transylvania counties effective 5 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 5, until further notice.

Evacuations: No Evacuations at this time. Evacuations will be issued by the Cherokee County Emergency Management Office. To sign up for alerts visit www.nixle.com or text your zip code to “888777” to automatically sign up. 

´╗┐For updates about the Collett Ridge Fire, please follow the National Forests in North Carolina at U.S. Forest Service - National Forests in North Carolina for additional updates.