North Carolina Wildfire Update (2016-12-01 14:22:43)

As of Wednesday, the North Carolina Forest Service says 8 fires in the state have burned over 66 thousand acres and more than 18 hundred personnel are involved in fire fighting operations.

Firefighters continue to monitor and patrol the perimeter of the Horton Fire, extinguishing hotspots. It is 90% contained and at 1450 acres. Other fires near the High country include The Clear Creek Fire in McDowell County which is 95 % contained and burned more than 3000 acres. The Chestnut Knob fire in Burke County is at 90% contained and nearly 6400 acres.

Federal prosecutors say a North Carolina man is accused of setting two wildfires. The U.S. Department of Justice says 49-year-old Keith Eugene Mann Franklin was arrested Wednesday on one count of destroying property by means of fire.
Court documents say a wildfire reported on Oct. 27 in the Nantahala National Forest in Macon County was intentionally set, as were five other fires nearby.
A second wildfire reported on Nov. 22, and investigators say the investigation found a cardboard box with burned wooden matches next to it. Authorities say Mann admitted setting both fires. The charges against him carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.             

As of late Wednesday, Officials in Sevier County Tennessee say the death toll reached seven in the fires in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area. A total of 53 people are reported injured. The number of buildings destroyed or damaged in Sevier county had risen to at least 400. Another 300 or so have been damaged or destroyed in Gatlinburg. In all, more than 14,000 residents and tourists were forced to evacuate the area.

National Park Service spokeswoman Dana Soehn told the media the original fire that sparked a dozen other fires was not started by a lightning stirke, but was "human-caused." There's now an investigation into the fire.