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Lake Lure, Chimney Rock make thank-you video for firefighters who saved their towns

Moved by a deep sense of gratitude, two mountain communities have come together to create a special thank-you video to the fire crews from 24 states who protected them from the Party Rock Fire that consumed nearly 8000 acres of forest land. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Moved by a deep sense of gratitude, two mountain communities have come together to create a special thank-you video to the fire crews from 24 states who protected them from the Party Rock Fire that consumed nearly 8000 acres of forest land.

"Thank You to 1000 Firefighters - Party Rock Fire” was created collaboratively by residents of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village. The eight-minute video features a public thank-you event and multiple images of the fire’s impact on these tiny mountain communities.

“This level of appreciation represents the way in which this fire impacted all of us,” observed Lake Lure Mayor Bob Keith. “We have always been a very caring community of people and keenly aware of how special this place really is."

“Knowing what we could have lost and what they preserved created in us an even deeper sense of gratitude, and so I think this ‘thank you’ video reflects what we wanted to convey to the firefighters and the world,” he said.

"Spanning rugged terrain across parts of three counties, the Party Rock Fire in Lake Lure became one of the largest, most complex fires within the mountain region of North Carolina in recent years,” said Dan Brandon, incident commander with the North Carolina Forestry Service.

The 7,142 acre fire threatened over 1200 homes and impacted thousands of residents, visitors and travelers. Despite drought conditions, dry fuels, and very rugged terrain, no homes were lost and no significant firefighter injuries occurred during the fire's 25-plus day duration.

In total, the Party Rock fire burned over 25 days, from Nov. 5-29, often smothering the region with a haze of smoke. Firefighters worked around the clock back-burning, constructing fire lines by hand and bulldozers, and protecting people's lives, homes and businesses.

The fire's cause is still under investigation.

“We would like to express our gratitude to the community for supporting the responders and entrusting us to contain the fire,” said Incident Commander Link Smith of the Oregon Forestry Service. “The firefighters would also like to thank the community and the citizens of North Carolina. The outpouring of support for the duration of the fire was truly remarkable. The firefighters are thankful for every person who has helped the process of controlling the blaze. It takes a team to fight a fire and all those who helped are part of that team,” he said.

More than 700 people representing 24 states worked the Party Rock fire. It transformed Lake Lure Town Hall and an adjacent waterfront park into a bustling tent city of firefighters and Forest Service personnel from around the country.

It racked up a cost of $7,889,344, burning almost 2500 acres of state park property and more than 4600 acres of private property.

It left the landscape charred, with flames mostly staying low and burning the underbrush without leaping high enough to burn the tree canopy and kill large numbers of trees.

"Fire is a natural process," says Donald Hagan, assistant professor and forest ecologist at Clemson University. "There are going to be some positive effects from this fire regardless of how destructive it might have been."

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