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North Carolina wildfires nearly 50-percent contained

Posted at 2:55 PM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 14:55:44-05

LAKE LURE, NC — The raging Party Rock fire had been contained to 45 percent, North Carolina Forestry Commission officials said Sunday night.

Despite concerns that weekend wind gusts up to 45 mph could slow progress for fire crews, officials said containment lines held up throughout the day on Sunday and that no fire had escaped the perimeter.

In contrast to wind worries, officials also said that air quality had significantly increased thanks to winds clearing the air of smoke.

No new evacuations were issued and no changes made to existing evacuation orders issued in the area of the Party Rock Fire as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

Strong winds Saturday night tested the containment lines on the Party Rock Fire, but officials reports the fire did not grow outside of those lines.

The size of the fire remains at 7,171 acres with 925 firefighters are working around the clock to protect homes and businesses.

Officials said an incident management team from Oregon would arrive this week to take command of the Party Rock Fire.

The team plans to spend a few days working with North Carolina crews to ensure a “smooth hand-off of fire management responsibilities takes place.”

The transfer of command from the NC team to the Oregon crew will take place Wednesday morning.

Residents and business owners have been allowed back into the Chimney Rock Village and Bat Cave neighborhoods, but passes are required for entry.

A section of Highway 74/74A through Chimney Rock Village from Bat Cave to Lake Lure remains closed as of Sunday evening.

Residents in the area are encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts through their county or local government sites.