UPDATE: As of Thursday evening, the Sugar Cove Fire was estimated at 577 acres and is 90 percent contained. N.C. 80 has been reopened for public access.
Efforts to contain the 180-acre fire near N.C. 80 were still underway late Monday and, earlier in the day, a man helping fight a brush fire at the other end of the county needed medical attention.
On Saturday, Jan. 28 at approximately 1 p.m., units responded to a wildfire on the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pigsah National Forest and private land. Leaf litter and underbrush burned along the Haines Eyebrow Ridge between Singecat Branch and Burgins Fork. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the fire was estimated at 180 acres and 10 percent contained as of late Monday afternoon.
According to Forest Service spokesperson Cathy Dowd, a Type 3 Incident Management team was called to assist agencies in fighting the blaze, dubbed the Sugar Cove fire, officially taking command at 8 a.m. on Monday morning.
In a press release, the U.S. Forest Service determined that the fire ignited when a brush burn pile escaped and spread to the surrounding area.
Near the same time as the Sugar Cove fire, units from Dysartsville, Glenwood, Nebo and Brendleton fire departments worked on a brush fire at 871 Lake Lamar Road. Estimated acreage for the Lake Lamar fire is unknown.
At this time, there are now 75 personnel at the Sugar Cove fire from McDowell Fire agencies, Emergency Management and N.C. and U.S. Forest Service, including one helicopter, two bulldozers and four engines. On Sunday afternoon, Emergency Management confirmed that while no structures were threatened, structural protection is ongoing. As of Monday morning, there wasn’t much growth in the fire overnight.
The Sugar Cove fire comes hot off the heels of the Clear Creek Fire and other blazes that struck McDowell and Western N.C. during mid-November.
N.C. 80 was still closed to all but local traffic between Buck Creek Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Little Buck Road near Lake Tahoma.
In an unrelated incident, units responded to Mud Cut Road in Marion across from Buster’s Towing & Recovery in reference to a brush fire on Monday morning.
Glenwood and Sugar-Hill Montford Cove Fire departments, McDowell EMS, Emergency Management and the N.C. Forest Service responded.
The blaze, which threatened one single-story home in front of it, was extinguished within a matter of minutes, however one person, neighbor Billy Crowe of Mud Cut Road, was treated by EMS for smoke inhalation and dehydration.
“He (Crowe) lives above the house that was in trouble, and he saw that the fire was getting out of control and tried to help put it out,” said Betty Crowe, Billy’s sister.
The U.S. Forest Service has advised to use extreme caution with outdoor fires, as Western N.C. continues to be abnormally dry despite recent rain and snow.