Arson possible cause of Nantahala wildfires

asheville-fire-feature

LAKE LURE, NC (WSPA) – The US Forest Service says they are investigating arson as a possible cause for wildfires in Nantahala National Forest.

A Spokesperson said that they don’t have numbers on how many of the wildfires currently burning may have been arson.

If you have seen suspicious activities, such as hearing someone brag about setting fires, you can report it to the U.S. Forest Service by calling 828-257-4200 or local law enforcement.

NC Gov. Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency to help the state fight the wildfires in western North Carolina prompted by the lingering drought that has impacted the region since late spring.

Credit Asheville Fire Dept.
Credit Asheville Fire Dept.

Forest wildfires are burning in several western North Carolina counties that are experiencing extreme drought.

EVACUATIONS

About 30 homes have been evacuated at Lake Lure due to a wildfire there.

100 homes have been evacuated in the Nantahala fires.

The latest are Mandatory evacuations in Clay Co. on Nelson Ridge Rd, south on Cold Branch Rd to Highway 64, east to Pounding Mill Rd. A shelfter has been set ujp at the Clay Co. Senior Center on Ritter Rd. in Hayesvill.

More than 19 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.

BURNING BAN

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.

FIRES

Fire Acres % Contain Start Date Closed
Boteler, Boteler Peak near Hayesville – caused by LIGHTNING 4,767 12 Oct. 25 Chunky Gal Trail
Cliffside 3 miles west of Highlands near Cliffside Lake Recreation Area 101 95 Nov. 2
Dick’s Creek northwest of Sylva 728 80 Oct. 23
Ferebee 2,061 15 Nov. 5 Winding Stairs Road is closed.
Knob, southwest of Franklin in the Nantahala Mountains 1,130 50 Nov. 2 Appalachian Trail from the Nantahala River at Wesser, south to Rock Gap.  Old 64 Murphy Road closed from its west junction of US 64 to Forest Service Road 67 leading to Standing Indian Campground. Rock Gap may be accessed from the south by going through Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Standing Indian Campground is OPEN.
Tellico, northwest of Franklin in the Nantahala Mountains 5,160 10 Nov. 3 Appalachian Trail is closed from the Nantahala River to Burningtown Gap.  Wesser Creek Trail is closed.
Whitewater 23 0 Trail is closed to the falls.

INTERACTIVE FIRE MAP


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Visibility (miles) Air Quality Index AQI Color 10+ 0 – 50 Good 6 – 9 51 – 100 Moderate 3 – 5 101 – 150 Unhealthy for sensitive groups 1 – 3 151 – 200 Unhealthy < 1 201 – 300 Hazardous

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