A massive wildfire in the mountains of North Carolina has rapidly grown to nearly 1,200 acres in just two days. The blaze, known as the Black Bear Fire, was ignited after a tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee border. The fire started on Thursday morning and has been spreading in the rugged terrain of Haywood County. As of Saturday afternoon, the fire is still burning and is 0 percent contained.
According to the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the tractor-trailer overturned in the westbound lanes of I-40 near mile marker 3. The fire quickly spread in the vegetation north of the highway, fueled by southeast winds and steep slopes. Smoke is expected along I-40 near the fire, and some parts of the highway may be closed. The Appalachian Trail is also closed from I-40 to Max Patch, and road closures are in effect for Cold Springs Road and Brown Gap Road.
Efforts to contain the fire are underway, with 166 personnel, three helicopters, one fire engine, and a bulldozer working on stopping the Black Bear Fire. Containment lines are being set along I-40 on the southwest, the Appalachian Trail from I-40 to Groundhog Creek Shelter on the north, and Forest Road 3580 on the east-south to I-40.
In addition to the Black Bear Fire, another wildfire called the Collette Ridge Fire has been burning in Cherokee and Clay counties since October 23. This fire, sparked by a lightning strike, has consumed 5,505 acres and is 82 percent contained. Currently, about 20 crews and two helicopters are assigned to the Collette Ridge Fire.
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