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Graham County wildfires reach full containment

Firefighters responded to two wildfires late April 14 near Fontana Lake in Graham County. Both fires burned on U.S. Forest Service land on the Nantahala National Forest Cheoah Ranger District but were 100 percent contained as of April 20.

The Flint Gap Fire, located in the Meeting House area along Fontana Lake, reached a final size of 387 acres. The fire was estimated at 50 acres April 15, with 13 firefighters on scene that day constructing fire lines and conducting burnout operations. 

Dry, windy conditions combined with burnout operations led to an increase in fire size, as firefighters used back burns to remove unburned fuels between the active fire and containment lines. The cause of the Flint Gap Fire is under investigation.

 The Left Loop Fire was located along Lake Fontana near the Tsali Mountain Bike trail complex and reached a final size of 20 acres. It was started by a lightning strike.

Even with recent rain events, these fires are a reminder that spring wildfire season can last into May. Locations where trees have not fully leafed out are most susceptible to high fire danger, where direct sunlight reaching the forest floor dries fuels quickly. It only takes a couple sunny, low-humidity days to dry the leaves, sticks and logs that are fuel for wildfires.

 While the N.C. Forest Service recently lifted its burn ban, fire restrictions remain in effect for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire is prohibited. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device is also prohibited. These restrictions are in effect until August 8, unless rescinded earlier due to changed conditions.

Review the National Forests in North Carolina website for updates and more information at www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nfsnc, and on Twitter at twitter.com/nfsncarolina.

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