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Forest Service: Evacuated Chimney Rock residents can return Saturday

Conditions also helped the Party Rock wildfire grow by nearly 1,000 acres. By Thursday afternoon, it was burning 6,712 acres and 32 percent contained. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Residents and business owners will be allowed back into Chimney Rock Village beginning at noon on Saturday, November 19, the N.C. Forest Service said in a release on Friday.

Permits are required to re-enter Chimney Rock Village and are being issued only to residents and business owners. Contact the Party Rock Fire Information Office for details.

Reach the Party Rock Fire Information Center at PartyRockFireInfo@gmail.com, or by phone at 828-513-2500.

Residents will need a pass and the village will still be closed to visitors and through traffic, but at least residents who have been gone, some for a week or more, can come back home.

The fire operations teams have been using fewer resources in the past few days: lighter trucks with more crews but less water. This is because the fire is more under control.

But they're preparing for heavy winds this weekend. That will be the scary part for firefighters

"The biggest concern is that it might blow fire material into burnt areas behind containment lines, but we've worked hard last few areas to create big enough barrier that we feel that will hold," said ," said Victoria Tillotson of the N.C. Forest Service.

The containment lines along that southeast edge are right in front of community areas, so structural firefighters have been clearing away brush and leaf fuel from around homes and buildings to keep them safe

Firefighters say as they've done these back-burns--they're holding containment lines and creating barriers. That's one reason why you're seeing acreage numbers go up, but a higher percentage contained.

That purposeful burning, they hope, will save more land and structures in the long run.

Containment on the 6712-acre Party Rock Fire grew to 32 percent on Thursday.

There are 920 firefighters assigned to this fire who are working to protect homes and to monitor completed containment lines. Several helicopters and a large air tanker supported firefighters as containment was completed overnight down to Rumbling Bald Resort communities.

A significant wind event is forecast for this weekend. Conditions on the ground remain dry, as there has been no rain in the area for 46 days.

Fire managers will have a large contingency of firefighting equipment including structure protection to patrol containment lines and the communities.

A stretch of Highway 74-A leading into Chimney Rock Village from the north and south remains closed. Highway 9 remains closed from the intersection at Highway 74-A in Bat Cave north to Shumont Road. Current road information can be accessed on the NCDOT Travel Information Management System website here.

Party Rock Fire information can be found on INCIWEB or on the Town of Lake Lure website.


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