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County to begin evacuation along N.C. 9

Henderson County emergency management officials and law enforcement will begin an evacuation of residences along N.C. 9 between the  Highway 74-A and Shumont Road at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 16, the sheriff's office said.

The evacuation notice will include all roads that connect to N.C. 9. Evacuations should be completed by 5 p.m. the same day. Those who cannot evacuate because of special needs or disability were advised to call 911.

Henderson County sheriff’s deputies are beginning to provide evacuation information to the affected areas, including all homes on N.C. 9, Hemlock Falls Trail, Minihaha Lane, Old Fort Loop, Rocky River Lane and Rustic Ridge Road.

Residents can shelter at Grace Lutheran Church, 1245 6th Avenue West, Hendersonville. The Red Cross is operating the shelter; the shelter phone number is 828-693-5605.

For more information on this evacuation, contact the Party Rock Fire Information Center at 828-513-2500 or 336-455-9641or partyrockfireinfo@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, authorities said continued warm dry weather and an approaching front packing strong gusty winds from the southwest could make it harder for fire crews to contain the pesky Party Rock Fire.

The windy conditions on Thursday have the potential to push the fire to the north and northeast toward Weed Patch Mountain and the Gray Rock community. Windy conditions could also move flames towards the evacuated communities of Rumbling Bald Resort, the Henderson County sheriff's office said in a news release Tuesday. In addition to the wind gusts, temperatures are expected to warm into the low 70s and relative humidity levels will again drop below 30 percent. 

The fire is now 3,744 acres in size and remains at 15 percent containment. The weather had not been conducive for large fire growth the past couple days but the front is expected to change things for the worse.

Fire managers are planning for the fire growth potential by establishing contingency lines should primary containment lines not hold. In addition, they are working with the structure protection group to ensure fire department engines are strategically placed within communities in the fire’s projected path to protect homes.

A stretch of Highway 74-A leading into Chimney Rock Village from the north and south remains closed. Party Rock Fire information can be found at inciweb.nwcg.gov.