Dobson Knob #2 Fire 95% contained, final update

NEBO, NC (August 7, 2023) ⇒ The Dobson Knob #2 Fire is showing no smoke or active burning after receiving over 3 inches of rain within a 24-hour period. Mapping showed the final fire size at 11.8 acres, 8.8 acres on U.S. Forest Service and 3 acres on private property. The fire is now 95% contained. All trail closures have been lifted.

Following significant, soaking rain last Thursday, no additional active burning has been seen in the fire area. Firefighters monitored the fire throughout the weekend. Even with hot, sunny afternoons on Saturday and Sunday, no smoke was seen in the fire area. Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the Dobson Knob #2 fire this week to ensure no large fuels re-ignite in the fire area. The Mountains to Sea Trail from the north fork of the Catawba River to Dobson Knob Road (FSRD #106) on the west side of Linville Gorge has reopened as of today.

The final burned area for the Dobson Knob #2 Fire, taken Monday August 7, 2023
Photo by Jamie Tyson, US Forest Service.

The Dobson Knob #2 Fire was reported Friday afternoon, July 28, 2023. The fire was burning in McDowell County on the north side of Dobson Knob near the North Cove Community, north of Marion, NC and west of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.

Eyewitnesses reported a lightning strike as the source of ignition, which was quickly verified by lightning-strike mapping from fire managers in collaboration with McDowell County Emergency Management. Lightning ignited downed trees on a rocky knob within the fire scar of the Dobson Knob Fire, which burned 1,760 acres in 2017. The knob was an area that burned particularly hot in 2017, leading to a large buildup of receptive fuels that burned hot over the initial 48 hours after ignition. However, surrounding the knob, the in-tact forest was less receptive to fire spread. Once fire burned through the fuels on the rocky knob it slowed significantly, and fire activity decreased as weather moderated.

Fire managers determined early in the fire response that direct suppression actions would not provide for adequate firefighter safety due to the steep, rocky inaccessible site conditions. Multiple water drops by the North Carolina Forest Service on the western edge kept the fire from further spreading onto private property. The fire area was bordered on the south by the Bald Knob fire (2015) and three US Forest Service prescribed fire units. The history of fire in the area, both prescribed and wildfire, meant fire managers could fall back to existing firelines as contingency lines. No new firelines were created, minimizing resource damage.

Although firefighters were able to use pre-existing containment lines, multiple structures were constructed between 2017 and today in the area bordering the forest boundary. Fire managers, in collaboration with the North Carolina Forest Service were able to take the opportunity to assess future wildfire mitigation needs and action plans for these communities. Any residents living near the forest boundary should be aware of Firewise planning around their homes. For more information and resources about Firewise visit

Firefighters responded from the U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, McDowell County Emergency Management, and the North Cove Volunteer Fire Department. We would like to extend gratitude to all the firefighters who helped manage the fire and inform our local communities throughout the response.

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