Firefighters battle rough conditions at Party Rock fire

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LAKE LURE, N.C. (WSPA) – The Party Rock wildfire burning at Lake Lure has set more than 4400 acres ablaze.  Firefighters say they’re expecting this fire to become even more active heading into the weekend.

On Tuesday, firefighters say the fire was spreading at about a half a mile per hour.

“There was some pretty good flame length, probably 10 or 15 feet,” said Samuel Byars, a conservation technician for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Byars is one of the people fighting this fire head on.

“We do it all by hand,” Byars said “We did not have any water, so we got down in the dirt, you can see my face, and threw dirt on stuff.”

He and the other firefighters work 12 hour shifts going up rocky, dusty, and slick terrain.

“You get up next to something that’s still on fire, the smoke is pretty rough, then you have the heat,” Byars said.

Those conditions have caused mandatory and recommended evacuations while firefighters camp out trying to protect homes and businesses. However, some firefighters say there have been issues with people not wanting to leave their homes.

“Firefighters will risk more if there is a life at risk, and if you stay in an area where fire is threatening your home, they may take risks that they wouldn’t otherwise take,” Andy Lyon, a wildfire public information officer, said.

He said they had good and bad news on Tuesday.

“We were able to let some people back into their homes in one area, but unfortunately, because of the course of the fire, we had to announce more evacuations in another area,” Lyon said.

The fire had reached the road in parts of Chimney Rock which firefighters said actually helps them.

“It’s best to let the fire just gradually back down and meet it on our terms on the road where we have a surface that’s not going to burn,” Lyon said.

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is strongly recommending people to evacuate who live on Highway 9 between the intersections of Highway 74-A and Shumont Road. The evacuation will start Wednesday at noon and go until 5 P.M.

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