FEMA To Assist With Cost Of Fighting Wildfires (2016-11-14 13:42:55)

Gov. Pat McCrory said the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a request to help fund the fight against dozens of wildfires causing mandatory evacuations in the western part of the state.

FEMA will pay for 75 percent of the emergency protective measures taken in fighting the more than 20 wildfires. The money will cover field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities.

“This declaration will help facilitate evacuations as needed and provide further state assets to help combat the wildfires and support North Carolinians displaced by the fires,” said McCrory. “This is extremely dangerous work, and I especially want to thank the firefighters, first responders, sheriffs and other emergency personnel that have risked their own lives to protect our citizens and property.”

The N.C. Forest Service has issued a burning ban on all open burning and has canceled burning permits in 25 counties. Evacuations have been ordered in Clay, Graham, Macon, Rutherford and Swain counties.

The Chestnut Knob fire at South Mountains State Park in Burke County has doubled in size in less than 24 hours, to 600 acres.

More than 560 firefighters and staff from at least 40 states were battling 18 blazes in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina, and state climatologist Rebecca Ward said some counties are having one of their driest years in 105 years of record-keeping.

More than 5,000 firefighters and support staff from around the nation have poured into the Southeast to try to suppress these fires, Shardul Raval, director of fire and aviation management for the southern region of the U.S. Forest Service, said Thursday.

A division of the U.S. Forest Service says the fires have been burning on more than 25 square miles in the Nantahala National Forest in the western part of North Carolina.

No arrests have been reported in those fires, but arson arrests have been made in Tennessee and Kentucky.

A state of emergency remains in effect for 25 counties, including Alexander, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln and Watauga. Burning bans remain in effect as well.

Image: Sattelite image from NC Air Quality Forecast Center
           Drift smoke seen atop Beech Mountain from Bill Fisher