A fire that started Monday afternoon on Sheepback Mountain in the Maggie Valley and initially spread rapidly was 100% contained by 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday April 5.
According to a Haywood County Emergency Services press release, it burned about 300 acres in just 24 hours.
“Several homes were threatened near Pless Underwood Road,” the statement said. “There were 17 homes in the evacuation zone, all of which were saved thanks to the diligent efforts of fire crews who worked through the night to protect the homes as the fire moved through the densely wooded areas around them. .”
Margeaux Boles Photography
However, before the fire was brought under control, about an hour after it started, these homes were evacuated and many residents found out about it via a message from “Haywood Alerts”.
“If you have to evacuate, do it now and do it quickly,” Allison Richmond, public information officer for Haywood County Emergency Services, told the Smoky Mountain News Monday afternoon, as the Firefighting efforts were just beginning.
“It goes up pretty quickly,” she added at the time.
All of the evacuated residents, many of whom were directed to a reunification center at Cavalry Road Baptist Church, were able to return home on Tuesday afternoon.
Crews from the Maggie Valley Fire Department, the North Carolina Forest Service, and more than two dozen fire departments from Haywood and surrounding counties responded, some of whom were on the scene for 24 hours.
No firefighter injuries were reported.
“Maggie Valley Fire and Rescue sincerely appreciates all of the support from the responding agencies during this fire. Your efforts have been invaluable,” Maggie Valley Fire Chief Scott Sutton said.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the tremendous efforts of our county fire departments and our neighboring counties in fighting this fire. Without their skills and dedication, this could not have gone so well,” said Haywood County Emergency Services Manager Travis Donaldson.
Firefighting crews got a good break on Tuesday afternoon, as around 1 p.m. heavy rain hit the area, giving a “significant boost” to containment efforts.
Before rains hit the area, planes dumped water on the blazes with a helicopter making trips to local springs and two tanker planes making trips back and forth from Asheville.
Although the press release did not state the exact cause of the fire, the statement reminded residents and visitors to think carefully before burning anything under such dangerous conditions.
“In dry, windy weather like Haywood County, any outdoor fire can quickly turn into an out of control brushfire,” it read. “DO NOT BURN outside during times like these. Monitor the NC Forest Services and Haywood Emergency Services social media pages for updates on burn conditions.