North Carolina Mountain Communities Create Thank you Video to Firefighters for saving their Towns

“There is the simple thank you. But they deserved more than that.”

Lake Lure, NC (Dec. 12, 2016) – Moved by a deep sense of gratitude, the small communities in this mountain region of North Carolina came together Dec. 12, 2016 to create a special ‘thank you’ video to the fire crews from 24 states who saved their towns and lives from the Party Rock Fire that consumed nearly 8,000 acres of forest land last month.

"Thank You to 1000 Firefighters - Party Rock Fire”  was created collaboratively by residents of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock Village. The eight minute video features a public thank you event and multiple images of the fire’s impact on these tiny mountain communities.

“This level of appreciation represents the way in which this fire impacted all of us,” observed Lake Lure Mayor Bob Keith.  “We have always been a very caring community of people and keenly aware of how special this place really is.

“Knowing what we could have lost and what they preserved created in us an even deeper sense of gratitude, and so I think this ‘thank you’ video reflects what we wanted to convey to the firefighters and the world,” he said.

"Spanning rugged terrain across parts of three counties, the Party Rock Fire in Lake Lure became one of the largest, most complex fires within the mountain region of North Carolina in recent years,” said Dan Brandon, Incident Commander from the North Carolina Forestry Service.

The 7,142 acre fire threatened over 1,200 homes and impacted thousands of residents, visitors and travelers. Despite drought conditions, historically dry fuels, and very rugged terrain, no homes were lost and no significant firefighter injuries occurred during the fire's 25-plus day duration.

In total, the Party Rock fire burned over 25 days, from Nov. 5-29, often smothering the region with a haze of smoke. Firefighters worked around the clock back burning, constructing fire lines by hand and bulldozers, and successfully protecting people's lives and their homes and businesses as planes and helicopters fought the flames from the air. The fire's cause is still under investigation. 

“We would like to express our gratitude to the community for supporting the responders and entrusting us to contain the fire,” said Incident Commander Link Smith from the Oregon Forestry Service.

“The firefighters would also like to thank the community and the citizens of North Carolina. The outpouring of support for the duration of the fire was truly remarkable. The firefighters are thankful for every person who has helped the process of controlling the blaze. It takes a team to fight a fire and all those who helped are part of that team,” he said.

More than 700 people, representing 24 states, worked the Party Rock fire. It transformed Lake Lure Town Hall and an adjacent waterfront park into a bustling tent city of firefighters and Forest Service personnel from around the country.

It racked up a cost of $7,889,344, burning almost 2,500 acres of state park property and more than 4,600 acres of private property.

It left the landscape charred, with flames mostly staying low and burning the underbrush without leaping high enough to burn the tree canopy and kill large numbers of trees.

But, even with the impact on citizens, it was ‘the good kind of fire.’

"Fire is a natural process," says Donald Hagan, assistant professor and forest ecologist at Clemson University. "There are going to be some positive effects from this fire regardless of how destructive it might have been."

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*Sources: Party Rock Fire “Executive Summary” - The NC & Oregon Forestry Service & Emergency Management Magazine, Dec. 2016 Issue