COLUMBIA, SC — Residents from the Upstate to the Midlands and even as far south as Aiken are reporting seeing and smelling a pervasive smoky haze that has been intensifying slightly for the last 24 hours, according to the SC Forestry Commission,
They say smoke is coming from several dozen wildfires in western North Carolina, northeastern Georgia and southeastern Tennessee.
They say a cold front that passed through the southern Appalachians Monday night helped push a blanket of smoke southeast toward the Palmetto State, more than half of which is now covered with light smoke.
With very little rain in recent months, low relative humidity and extended drought conditions affecting much of the region, a series of wildfires has broken out to our west and northwest over the last few weeks, according the SCFC.
Forestry Commission Fire Chief Darryl Jones said the smoke likely will not dissipate until either the Appalachian wildfires are controlled or the state receives significant rainfall.
UPDATES FROM US FOREST SERVICE:
Currently at the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina, more than 565 firefighters and support staff from more than 40 states and territories are working to suppress 18 wildfire fires to protect people, structures, and infrastructure. Winds are forecast at three mph increasing to 5-10 mph in the afternoon. Ridge-top wind gusts of 30-35 mph are possible today. Lower level winds could have gusts to 25 mph. Strong winds will continue tonight, becoming more northerly in the evening. Ridgetop gusts of 20 – 25 mph will be possible through midnight. Strong winds will create “very active fire behavior” according to incident fire behavior analyst Ben Rowland. They will also increase the chance of fires spotting across containment lines, especially at higher elevations.
Macon County Emergency Management Activated their Reverse 911 yesterday to residents in a Code Red area shown in the map at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5084/34238/
Proclamation of State Emergency – Macon County. For more information visit: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5084/34242/
Additional requested crews are coming from all across the country to help fight these fires.
Firefighters used leaf blowers to clear the previously constructed fire line along Nelson Ridge road. Defensive burning operations around structures were successful. Structure assessment was conducted on the east and south side of the fire. Today, stronger winds from the northwest will test fire line today. Firefighters will continue to construct fire line from Nelson Ridge road towards Chunky Gal trail. They will improve line along Pounding Mill creek to Dark Cove. They will continue to maintain and improve existing lines. Structural protection will continue to be a priority.
Crews continued strengthening all fire lines. Today, they will patrol, monitor and mop-up on the Southeast end. They will also be mopping-up where possible to 50-100 feet in on all control lines, as well as checking and clean out of control lines by raking and blowing newly dropped dry leaves.
Knob: “We tucked it in, but it’s not in bed yet,” said the Nantahala Operations Branch Chief Troy Floyd, at the morning briefing today in Franklin. Firefighters continued increasing protective value of dozer and hand crew-cut lines, managing snags (the dead trees that catch fire from the low ground fire), and other perimeter controls. Today, they will mop-up control lines 50-100 feet in by putting out smoldering remnants of the fire. They will also monitor and clean control lines. Crews and security teams will monitor Highway 64 for smoke and traffic as fire progresses and may close the highway for safety at any time.
Whitewater: Fire crews secured and strengthened lines. Today, they willimprove the lines while monitoring, patrolling, and mopping-up. Teams will continue assessing damage to trail system as time and conditions allow.
Crews continued structure protection efforts. They burned out fuels in strategic burnout operations in unburned areas in between the wildfire and control lines and values at risk. One of these burnout actions was within sight of the Tellico Trout Farm on the East side of the fire. Today, crews will work to secure structures as the fire approaches. The will hold the southern line by mopping up and patrolling. Where needed, bulldozers or hand crews will cut away and clear unburned vegetation in lines to direct the fire away from structures, creating a more defensible space from the wildfire. Crews willcontinue establishing control lines to the North. The will work to secure structures as the fire moves North and East towards Needmore Road.
“We want to keep this tucked in,” said Floyd. Firefighters monitored the fires’ actions, patrolled, and mopped-up.Today, they willexpand mop-up of control lines 100 feet in the direction of the fire. They also will monitor and clean out these lines.
Similar to actions at Tellico, fire crews improved and extended hand firelines and dozer lines yesterday. They scouted for new line locations in the gorge to tie up flanks. Crews worked to construct fire lines down to the stream from both sides to connect dozer lines. They worked on completing dozer lines on top of the ridge. Yesterday, Swain County Emergency Management called for evacuation of two residences on Silver Mine Rd. Other residents on this road were advised of possible evacuations to come. Today, firefighters will scout for areas to cut off the fire spread to the North and South. The major focus is to protect structures around Silver Mine Road and Camp Branch Road and Queens Lake Communities.
May Branch: Crews monitored the fire, patrolled, and mopped-up. They also checked and cleaned out control lines. Today, they will continueincreasing mop-up distance to 100 feet in from control lines while monitoring and cleaning out control lines.
Firefighters improved fire lines, conducted mop-up and patrolled. Today, firefighters will monitor and patrol the fire.
Avey Branch, Grape Cove, Jarrett Bald, Jones Gap, Maples Springs, Mulberry, Moss Knob, Moses Creek, and Wine Springs: Crews assessed new fires and continued monitoring and patrolling, and will do the same today.
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