HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Firefighters are working to put out a wildfire in the mountains of Haywood County that has been burning since Wednesday.
According to the National Forests in North Carolina, a fire was reported near Cold Springs Road in the Harmon Den area of Haywood County.
Despite it raining two separate times since then, officials with the U.S. Forest Service said it has grown to 500 acres.
“It really started growing a little bit with the winds about 2 or 3 days ago and that caused all the fire and smoke folks saw on I-40,” said Greg Philipp, U.S. Forest Service Planning Operations.
Flames are visible on the east side of Interstate 40 and officials said smoke may impact visibility on the road, particularly in the mornings and evenings through Wednesday. As the fire spreads east through the remote Hurricane Creek Drainage, officials are learning more about its size using what they call re-mapping.
“This transitioned last night to a type 3 incident,” said Robert Beanblossom, U.S Forest Service. “That doesn’t mean we have entirely new people, many of the same people are still here it’s just a matter of re-arranging the structure.”
Crews have been using helicopters to help contain the fire, dropping water from 240-gallon buckets.
“We have about 80 firefighters out here currently that are building line, constructing fire line, which we can also burn out the fuels around to basically extinguish the fire by robbing it of fuels to burn,” said Philipp.
As firefighters conduct burn out operations, Haywood County and Western Madison County are expected to continue to be impacted by the smoke.
“The U.S. Forest Service is running smoke models to let us know how much smoke we can put in the atmosphere for our burn outs to make these lines safe,” said Philipp. “People could probably expect to see what they’ve seen the past couple of days, we don’t anticipate any heavier smoke.”
With the surrounding communities seeing the impacts, officials said they’ve received an overwhelming number of calls.
“We will have folks here until this fire is extinguished,” said Philipp. “I think the emergency services had over 1,000 calls yesterday so you can imagine what that volume does to everyday other issues in the county.”
Haywood County Emergency Services is urging people to not call 9-1-1 about the wildfire and to not fly drones over the area.