Fire update from community meeting
“About seven million dollars.” That is what fighting the Boteler Fire had costs taxpayers as of Wednesday, November 16th, according to NC State Forestry Service Incident Commander Trainee Kevin Harvell. During another community meeting Thursday, November 17th, Harvell and other forestry officials presented information and answered questions from several dozen people who came to the meeting, as well as from people viewing online.
“But the state will only pay a portion of the total costs,” Harvell added. Most of the costs will be paid by federal funds.
Using a laser pointer on a large projected map, Red Team Commander Steve Weaver described the size of the Boteler Fire, along with other local fires. Reminding how Boteler Fire is believed to have started from a lightning strike on October 25th , Weaver explained. “The Red Team took command on November 3rd. We have a full containment line around the fire and it is currently at 70 percent containment.”
Boteler has remained a little under 9,000 acres. “The cold front that went through a few days ago is what forced the fire to the south and southwest and endangered so many structures,” Weaver continued. “Much of the fire is in patrol status. You will see some internal burning all around the line.
He said helicopters were used again today because the new shedding of leaves has caused a reburn on internal hot spots. Firefighters had to “blow it out and reprepare it.” Because leaves are continually falling, firefighters must monitor all of the lines at all times, including at night to assure it does not reburn and cross the fire lines.
He explained smoke prevents using aircraft, but aircraft have been used on all fires when it is safe for the pilots and the firefighters. Even with fire containment, it is going to take about one and one half inches of rain to extinguish the hot spots and fire officials were concerned about wind and dry conditions predicted for Friday and the weekend.
The Rock Mountain Fire is a concern for Clay County residents since it is within several miles of Shooting Creek. “It just nicked across the North Carolina line,” he said. It was also about 9,000 acres at the time of the meeting, but projected to grow.
Indicating the fifteen fires the group had worked, Weaver said the Ferebee and Tellico fires had become one fire. It is about 14,000 acres and at 81 percent containment.
Regular fire updates are available at https://www.facebook.com/BotelerFire. The link for community briefings and other information is also there.