TROY, NC - U.S. Forest Service officials say a fire in the Uwharrie National Forest is now 70 percent contained. The Forest Service expects the fire to be fully contained by the end of today.

More than 30 firefighters from the Forest Service and other agencies are fighting the fire, located about 5-6 miles from the southwest edge of the city of Asheboro. Suppression efforts include Forest Service firefighting crews on the ground and helicopter support. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The fire, which was reported around 7 p.m. on Feb. 11, grew to about 73 acres by Feb. 12. Eighty percent of the fire was in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness area of the national forest. Twenty percent was on private land. The Birkhead Wilderness area (including all trails) is closed to visitors until the Forest Service deems it safe to return.

No injuries or structural damage were reported. Forest Service officials expect there will be no adverse, long term effects to the health of the wilderness area.

Media contact: Deborah Walker, Uwharrie district ranger, 910-975-0803.