WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A large North Carolina mountain wildfire that was sparked after a tractor-trailer crash on Interstate 40 has grown to nearly 1,200 acres in just two days.
The fire began around 9 a.m. Thursday in Haywood County on I-40 at mile marker 3 near the tunnel after a tractor-trailer overturned in the westbound lanes near the Tennessee border, according to the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The blaze, called the Black Bear Fire, was still burning Saturday in rugged terrain at mile marker 3, in Haywood County in the Appalachian Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest.
So far, the fire has scorched 1,193 acres and is 0 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service said Saturday afternoon.
“The fire spread in vegetation north of the highway and rapidly progressed up steep slopes, partially driven by southeast winds,” the North Carolina Forest Service said.
Fire officials said some parts of I-40 could be closed.
“Expect smoke when driving along I-40 near the fire,” U.S. Forest Service officials said Saturday.
The Appalachian Trail is closed from Interstate 40 to Max Patch and road closures are in effect for Cold Springs Road and Brown Gap Road.
As of Saturday, 166 people were working to contain the fire along with three helicopters. One fire engine and a bulldozer are also working to stop the Black Bear Fire.
Crews are setting containment lines of Interstate 40 on the southwest, the Appalachian Trail from I-40 to Groundhog Creek Shelter along the north, and Forest Road 3580 on the east-south to I-40.
Meanwhile, the Collette Ridge Fire that was sparked by a lightning strike on Oct. 23 has burned 5,505 acres and was at 82 percent contained on Saturday. So far, 223 people have worked to stop the large fire in Cherokee and Clay counties.
For now, only about 20 crews are working and two helicopters are assigned to the Collette Ridge Fire.