Southern wildfires burn 80000 acres across five states


More than 30 large wildfires have left a trail of destruction through 80,000 acres in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, according to the US Forest Service.

The Mowbray Mountain fire, which has burned some 750 acres, is over 50 percent contained and that number should climb by late Monday, according to Julie Allen, PIO with the Florida Forestry Service, which has taken over the leadership in fighting several fires in the area.

According to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, the Tellico Fire began November 3 and has since burned through 13,676 acres.

Earlier this week, evacuations were ordered in Lake Lure in Rutherford County along with mandatory evacuations in parts of Graham, Swain, Clay and Macon counties.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center and other local whitewater outfitters were forced to close Friday morning as forest fires that have been sweeping through western North Carolina for the last month reached the Nantahala National Forest.

Those with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency have declared a Level 3 State of Emergency due to the drought and wildfires.

Before the rain and temperature drops over the weekend, the fire basically had free range, but now the fire must first dry out and then bring up to temperature the fuel it would consume, he said. He said they would "know more in a day or two". The smoke was noticeable across the Greater Hickory Metro area, causing hazy conditions in multiple counties.

Evacuations also included residents and businesses on South Side Drive from the Flowering Bridge west to the Hickory Nut Falls Campground Bridge, and Hickory Nut Falls Campground Bridge intersection from Highway 74 to the county line, the forest service said in its statement. However, should any evacuations become necessary, Burke County Emergency Management will notify residents in the affected areas through the Reverse 911 system.

Over 5,000 firefighters and heavy equipment are battling fires in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The fires continue to post a major challenge for the communities of Lake Lure, Chimney Rock and Bat Cave.

"This is good news in our continued efforts to protect lives and property as teams continue to try to get these fires under control", said McCrory.

"Right now, we are estimating it (the Party Rock fire) at 15 percent contained", said Carrie Harmon, public information officer at the Party Rock Fire.

"Our philosophy on wildfires is that you don't put a fire out, you contain it", Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Phelps said.



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