Wildfire near Lake Lure forces road closures

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The Latest on forest fires in western North Carolina (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

State transportation officials say the wildfire near Lake Lure has forced the immediate closing of U.S. 64/74A and N.C. 9 in Rutherford County.

A statement from the N.C. Department of Transportation on Friday said a seven-mile stretch of road between the intersection of N.C. 9 and U.S. 64/74A, which lead to the lake and Chimney Rock State Park, will be closed to all traffic except emergency personnel until officials deem the area safe for residents and visitors.

A 48-mile detour around the fire to Bat Cave has been established by transportation officials. Westbound traffic from Rutherfordton is being detoured left on N.C. 9, right on N.C. 108 in Mill Spring, right on U.S. 74 West, right on I-26 West and right on U.S. 64 in Hendersonville to Bat Cave.

Eastbound traffic will follow that route in reverse.

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1:05 p.m.

A forest fire has crossed its containment line, forcing more evacuations in western North Carolina.

State and federal fire officials say portions of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure communities are now under evacuation orders due to the Party Rock Fire. The evacuation was prompted by a major fire run up to and crossing the Shumont Mountain containment line Friday.

Some evacuations are mandatory while others are voluntary. Officials said they didn’t have an immediate count on the number of homes involved.

Shelters are open at Bills Creek Baptist Church in Lake Lure and Greenhill Baptist Church in Rutherfordton.

Homes in Lake Lure also were evacuated earlier this week.

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12:30 p.m.

The forest fires in western North Carolina are forcing the state to close several state parks so that the people who work there can help fight the fires.

Don Reuter of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation says the following state parks are closed starting Friday: Gorges, New River, Mount Mitchell, Elk Knob, Lake James and the Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. South Mountain and Chimney Rock state parks closed earlier.

Reuter says it’s never an easy decision to close parks but the priority now is protecting life and property.

Categories: Associated Press, NC, News

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