NC wildfire map | Mountain blazes claim over 44000 acres

Ray Hunter
November 16, 2016

That blaze was caused by a lightning strike, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Michelle Burnett, while several others on federal land remain under investigation. "Drought conditions are contributing to drier and larger forest fuels being available".

"This fire has the characteristics of western fires, of California fires", a North Carolina fire chief tells the Charlotte Observer as dozens of major wildfires blaze in the drought-ravaged South.

Dry weather, low humidity and a lack of rainfall are to blame, and in some cases arson. "We've been putting in some new dozer lines and trying to get a real defensible position between the park boundary and the cluster of homes in that area".

Officials said those weather conditions will support rapid fire growth.

The almost month-old fire has burned primarily in the Cohutta Wilderness area of the Chattahoochee National Forest, near Georgia's borders with Tennessee and North Carolina.

In Tennessee, 42 of the 58 active wildfires in the state are suspected arsons - or about 72 percent of them - the Tennessee Department of Agriculture reported Saturday in its wildfire situation update.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the state will "do everything" to fight the wildfires. Parsons Branch Road in Cades Cove was also closed because of trees downed by fire.

Gatlin said the fire didn't start near a highway or house and burned to within 30 or 40 yards of a house before it was stopped by volunteer firefighters. In Rabun County, Georgia, the fire departments are working 16-hour shifts, and these are not large fire departments. Satellite images show a blanket of smoke over the skies in several Southern states.

The Chestnut Knob Fire in South Mountain State Park has consumed about 3,200 acres and forced the closing of the park, Haines said. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 500+ homes in and around the Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, and Shumont communities.

Firefighters walk down a dirt road as a wildfire burns a hillside Tuesday in Clayton, Georgia.

The Latest on the persistent drought and wildfires that have burned more than 80,000 acres of forest and blanketed large areas of the south in theĀ unsafe haze.

The Party Rock Fire is now 3,744 acres in size and remains at 15 percent containment, according to a statement released by the North Carolina Forest Service on Thursday.

"I'm concerned it was up there at the top of the ridge and now it's down to here", said one evacuee.

A total fire ban is now in effect in the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests.

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