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November 17, 2013

Officials: Winds could slow efforts to contain Table Rock wildfire

Firefighters said Sunday they were worried that high winds across the Linville Gorge would hinder their efforts to suppress a wildfire burning in Western North Carolina.

U.S. Forest Service officials said in a news release that they did not anticipate the winds would push the fire beyond the containment lines that have been cleared, but they did worry that the winds could pose a threat to firefighters working in the area.

Crews were pulled back Sunday until the wind danger has subsided.

Crews and equipment will continue clearing containment lines and cutting trees once it is safe to do so, the release said.

Close to 140 firefighters were working on containing the Table Rock fire, which began early last week. The size of the fire was estimated at more than 2,200 acres, with containment at 40 percent.

One structure is threatened within the fire perimeter, on private land. Crews are working with the landowner to protect that property.

Several roads and trails are closed in the Linville Gorge area. A complete list can be found on the National Forests in North Carolina website. Visitors should check the website before planning a trip to the gorge.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire investigators, however, are interested in talking with people who camped at the Table Rock Picnic Area on Veterans Day. They believe this group has information that would aid in the investigation.

A reward may be offered for substantial information regarding this investigation, and anyone with information should contact Law Enforcement Officer Jason Crisp at 828-442-2470 or the Grandfather Ranger District at 828-652-2144.

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