HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The 434-acre wildfire raging in Henderson County since last weekend — named the Poplar Drive Fire — is up to 50% contained, according to the North Carolina Forest Service.
On Thursday, fire crews strengthened containment lines along the western boundary following a “strategic firing operation” along Kyles Creek Road. On Friday, firefighters continued to tend to smoldering areas around the blaze.
Rainfall totals reached up to one-tenth of an inch over the area of the fire on Friday.
Firefighters utilized the rain to work aggressively on mop-up operations, tackling the smoldering areas of the fire and strengthening containment lines with dozer equipment and hand digging.
Water handling operations with drop tanks, water tender equipment and hose lays are still being utilized. Due to the rain, drones were not able to assess heat signatures within the fire footprint, but flights should resume once the rain dissipates.
“The mop-up process is going to take some time, but we have a drone flying the fire at night to find the greatest sources of heat and we are trying our best to tackle those with as much water and personnel as possible,” said Operations Section Chief Dwayne Vigil. “If the vegetation falls over and the leaves fall onto the smoldering areas, the fire could reignite and throw embers. In some areas the vegetation is so thick, firefighters have to cut their way into the brush to get to the heat to put water on it.”
As a result of the Poplar Drive Fire, one home, two cabins and two outbuildings have been lost, and another home has been damaged.
North Carolina wildfires lead to state of emergency
The western North Carolina mountains have been under a state of emergency due to the Poplar Drive blaze as well as other wildfires in Cherokee, Jackson and Haywood counties and in Asheville.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently weighed in on the blazes and praised those on the front line.
“The Governor is grateful for the first responders who have jumped into action to combat the ongoing wildfires in the western part of our state. The Governor and our office have been in communication with state Emergency Management and local leaders to provide assistance as necessary,” said in a statement from Jordan Monaghan, Deputy Communications Director for the Office of Governor Roy Cooper.
Burn ban in effect for 30 counties
Though the cause of the Poplar Drive Fire remains unknown, severe drought conditions in the western part of the state have created plenty of fuel for sparks to rapidly grow into infernos.
As of Wednesday, 30 North Carolina counties are under a burn ban, meaning campfires and burning things like leaves and trash are prohibited.
According to the NC Forest Service, light rain is expected over some areas over the weekend, but significant rainfall is not expected. Next week’s forecast shows more warm and dry weather is on the way.