Brush fires on side of the highway create short traffic delays

Jan. 24—A series of brush fires along the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway in Waynesville temporarily slowed traffic on Monday afternoon.

The fires started around 1:40 p.m. along the westbound side of the bypass between the Lowe's and Russ Avenue exits.

There were a total of three small fires along the side of the highway, according to Matthew Hooper, the Haywood County ranger for the N.C. Forest Service.

While the exact cause of the fires is unknown, he has an educated theory.

"I couldn't find any hard evidence, but it's believed to be from carbon from a muffler," Hooper said. "Those little fires start on that stretch all the time."

There are two leading causes of brush fires along the side of highways: muffler carbon residue and sparks from dragging metal.

"A lot of times, the fires that start on the side of the road are carbon or someone dragging something, but I couldn't find any evidence where anything had drug on the road," Hooper said.

The fire started on side of the embankment along the bypass — which is the perfect angle to have been shot out of a muffler.

The fires took just over an hour to put out. The three fires burnt a total of three-quarters of an acre. There were no injuries or additional property damage.