- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

SAPPHIRE, N.C. (AP) - A popular waterfall is reopening after being closed when wildfires burned in western North Carolina last fall.

Cathy Dowd with the U.S. Forest Service in Asheville told local news outlets that Whitewater Falls was reopening Friday afternoon in the Nantahala National Forest.

The Whitewater Fire began Nov. 6 and Dowd said it burned only 23 acres but heavily damaged the stairs and the access facility to the observation deck.

A contractor was paid $85,000 to rebuild the areas.

Contractors and Forest Service staff will continue working on sections of the trail and trail bridge over Whitewater River.

Whitewater Falls has a drop of 400 feet, one of the highest falls in the Eastern United States.

She says the area gets between 80,000 and 100,000 visitors each year.

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