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Parkway fire 50% contained

Firefighters have made good progress on the Barnett Branch Fire which has been burning in rough terrain on the Pisgah National Forest off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Pisgah Inn since Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The fire is now estimated at 370 acres and is 50 percent contained. The growth in fire size since yesterday is due to burnout operations in which firefighters remove fuels between the containment lines and the fire’s edge to better control the intensity of the fire and secure containment lines.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has reopened from U.S. 276 to the Pisgah Inn. Fryingpan Tower has also reopened. Closures are still in effect for Yellow Gap Road, Barnett Branch Trail #618 above Yellow Gap Road, Buck Springs Trail #104, and Mountains to Sea Trail from Hwy 276 north to the Pisgah Inn. While Yellow Gap Road may open later today pending an assessment of conditions, the trails are expected to remain closed for the next few days due to fire activity and resulting hazards.

As of Sunday, approximately 30 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service were assigned to the wildfire. They will continue to secure the edges of the fire area, mitigating heavy fuels and snags that threaten containment lines. The cause of the fire is under investigation.