McDowell Co. wildfire grows to 2,600 acres, air quality alert in - FOX Carolina 21

McDowell Co. wildfire grows to 2,600 acres, air quality alert in affect

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Flames visible on Clear Creek Road (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 21, 2016) Flames visible on Clear Creek Road (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 21, 2016)
Crew blocked off a portion of Hwy 80 Wednesday morning (Nov. 23, 2016) Crew blocked off a portion of Hwy 80 Wednesday morning (Nov. 23, 2016)
MARION, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The McDowell County Sheriff’s office said the Clear Creek wildfire grew to around 2,623 acres by Friday. The fire is burning in the Pleasant Gardens area, about five miles north of Marion.

The fire was 30 percent contained as of Friday.

A community meeting to discuss the fire and its threat to the area is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday.

At a community meeting on Tuesday officials advised residents of a burning ban, which included burning charcoal and leaves. They also said the expect smoke in the area for awhile.

Officials also said they believe the fires are being started intentionally. The sheriff said to report any suspicion of intentional arson.

"If they see a vehicle pulled off the road, especially with somebody around the vehicle, just be observant about that," the sheriff said. "If we can get a tag number and that kind of thing, that's always more helpful and certainly if there's an indication of a fire in that vicinity later on, please let us know."

He said Crime Stoppers has a reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of the people or persons involved with starting the fires.

Officials said Party Rock strike teams were able to get to homes and prep them before the fire got to them.

389 people are battling the wildfire, which broke out on Sunday, using hand crews, engines, heavy equipment and helicopters.

NC Hwy 80 from Toms Creek Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed to nonresidents. Clear Creek Road, at the junction with Old Clear Creek Road, is closed to nonresidents..

Crews will continue working to protect structures on Clear Creek Road and Highway 80. At this time, no structures have been lost and no mandatory evacuations have been issued.

Drones are strictly prohibited from flying in the area of the fire, and have the potential to shut down all operations.

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