Governor Pat McCrory announced today that efforts remain underway to continue battling nearly 20 wildfires throughout western North Carolina. More than 2,000 personnel from North Carolina and other states are involved in fighting fires throughout the region that have burned more than 46,000 acres. The estimated cost of these fires has now reached more than $15 million.
"Firefighters and emergency management personnel continue facing difficult conditions throughout western North Carolina," said Governor McCrory. "We are working with local and federal partners to provide any available support to help protect our first responders, citizens and property."
To date, wildfires have threatened more than 1,800 structures. Investigations continue into the cause of wildfires, however Governor McCrory said dry conditions in the region may cause fires to last several months. Fires have caused air quality concerns throughout western and central North Carolina.
Mandatory evacuations are still in place in Rutherford County and an evacuation was ordered in Henderson County effective at noon today. One shelter is open in Henderson County with five occupants.
Fires have closed many state parks, sections of the Appalachian Trail and roads throughout the region. The Tellico fire in Macon and Swain counties closed a 14-mile section of U.S. 19/74 between N.C. 129 and N.C. 28 for about 48 hours over the weekend. It is now open. The Party Rock fire near Lake Lure and Chimney Rock closed a 7-mile stretch of U.S. 64/74A and N.C. 9 on Friday. Expansion of the Party Rock fire has forced the closure today of a 2.2-mile section of N.C. 9 between the intersection of U.S. 64/74A near Bat Cave and Shumont Road after an evacuation of the area is complete. For more information on road closures, click here.
The governor said officials will use more roads and creeks as natural containment barriers to fight fires over the coming days. In support of the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Emergency Management's Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team has deployed a N.C. National Guard Blackhawk helicopter to be on standby, along with local rescue technicians to perform any rescues necessary from wildfire fighting operations.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved Governor McCrory's request for financial assistance through Fire Management Assistance Grants which allow FEMA to pay for 75 percent of the emergency protective measures taken in fighting the fires including expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.
Details on the major fires burning in North Carolina are found below:
Tellico Fire – Macon/Swain counties:
- Approximately 13,700 acres burned to date – 68% contained
- 464 active personnel
Party Rock – Rutherford County:
- Approximately 4,480 acres burned – 19% contained
- 323 active personnel
Chestnut Knob – Burke County:
- Approximately 4,600 acres burned – 30% contained
- 205 active personnel
Boteler – Clay County:
- Approximately 8,967 acres burned – 43% contained
- 366 active personnel
Dicks Creek – Jackson County:
- Approximately 730 acres burned – 94% contained
- 7 active personnel
Knob – Macon County:
- Approximately 1,130 acres burned – 95% contained
- 4 active personnel
Maple Springs & Old Roughy – Graham County:
- Maple Springs: approximately 7,515 acres burned – 15% contained
- Old Roughy: approximately 657 acres burned - 80% contained
- 346 active personnel
Muskrat Valley – Macon County:
- Approximately 103 acres burned – 90% contained
- 50 active personnel