Western, NC (WSPA) – NC Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency to help the state combat more than 20 active wildfires in western North Carolina prompted by the lingering drought that has impacted the region since late spring.
Forest wildfires are burning in several western North Carolina counties that are experiencing extreme drought.
About 30 homes have been evacuated at Lake Lure due to a wildfire there.
More than 20 wildfires are burning on over 17,000 acres across the Nantahala National Forest. All fires are being investigated for suspected arson.
More than 565 firefighters and support staff from more than 40 states and territories are working to suppress 18 wildland fires to protect people, structures, and infrastructure.
Winds are forecasted to be lighter today dropping to 5-8 mph, with gusts 10-15 mph, but the relative humidity is predicted to be lower today (18-25%), so fire behavior will continue to be critical.
Evacuations were ordered yesterday for residences along Gassaway Rd., Wesser Creek Rd., De Wessse Rd., Northern Partridge Rd., Big Dog Rd., Long Branch Rd. and Licklog Rd.
STATE OF EMERGENCY COUNTIES
Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties.
The N.C. Forest Service has issued a burning ban on all open burning and cancelled burning permits in 25 counties in the western part of the state.
To date, there have been evacuations ordered in Clay, Graham, Macon, Rutherford and Swain counties.
Beginning on November 10, 2016, the following restrictions are in place for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests until further notice:
Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether in a grill or not) is NOT ALLOWED anywhere on the National Forest.
The use of commercially available portable lanterns, stoves, or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed.