HENDERSON COUNTY, NC (WSPA) – The 431-acre Poplar Drive fire, which has been burning since Friday, is now 15% contained, according to the North Carolina Forest Service.

“When the fire built up steam, the dry conditions just fed fuel to that fire,” said Incident Commander Kevin Harvell.

Those dry conditions, Harvell said, have made containing the wildfire all the more difficult.

“We’re having to go back to the same spots time and again because it is so dry,” he said. “We put several hundred gallons of water on it only to come back hours later and see the heat’s back in there because it’s so dry and it’s so deep.”

Harvell and his team of more than 220 firefighters have their eyes on Friday’s forecast, which could bring rain and will cooler conditions as a cold front settles in.

In the meantime, the Poplar Drive Fire and other nearby wildfires have prompted air quality alerts.

Dr. Sarav Arunachalam, the Deputy Director of University of North Carolina’s Institute for the Environment recommends keeping tabs on the color-coded levels of the alerts: Anything orange or more severe warrant attention, he said.

 “If they do put out a code orange, for example, then you want to avoid outdoor exertion, outdoor exposure,” Dr. Arunachalam said.

Residents who cannot avoid outdoor exposure during these periods, Arunachalam said, should protect themselves with respirator masks.