Severe wildfires continue to rage across Western North Carolina, burning forest habitat, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes and creating dangerous air quality conditions for tens of thousands of people in the region. Here’s a look at some of what’s been happening:

More than 30,000 acres have been burned in several wildfires around WNC. The major fires are referred to as the Tellico fire, the Boteler fire, the Party Rock fire, the Maples Springs Fire and the Ferebee fire. One of the biggest fires is burning in the vast Nantahala National Forest. There are a total of about 20 fires burning around the mountains.

Western North Carolina is experiencing severe drought. It hasn’t rained in the region since August, and no significant rainfall is predicted anytime soon.

No homes have been lost in the North Carolina fires, and no major injuries have been reported.

The Party Rock fire continues to threaten the town of Chimney Rock near Lake Lure, reports the Hendersonville Times-News. Air tankers have been called in to battle the fire, the Charlotte Observer reports.

-The fire threatening Chimney Rock has properties of wildfires seen out West, reports the Charlotte Observer:

So deep is the undergrowth and so hot the fire that it has crept through carbon packed in the earth beneath the alleys slashed in the last week by bulldozers as containment lines. It is unusually explosive. …

“They say it is unlike anything they’ve ever seen,” says Richard Barnwell, Bat Cave’s 74-year-old fire chief.

Investigators believe the fires were intentionally set. No arrests have been made in North Carolina, but suspects have been arrested and charged with arson in Kentucky and Tennessee, WNCN reports.

-Firefighters have arrived from around the country to fight the wildfires. The Macon County News reports that firefighters from 16 states are battling blazes.

Volunteers are collecting supplies for firefighters, who need everything from Gatorade to saline solution for their eyes. WLOS has a good list here of where to drop off supplies. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer added this:

You can drop off donations at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, at 36 Montford Ave., Asheville. Thank you!
Non-food items:
• Moleskin (blister prevention)
• Foot powder
• Baby wipes
• Eye drops
• Chapstick
Toiletries
• Saline nose spray
• Personal Hygiene
• Duct tape (for blisters)
• Ziploc bags (quart snack and gallon)
• Ibuprofen(individual sizes)
• Benadryl
• Packaged eating utensils (fork/knife/spoon, etc.)
• To-go boxes
• Large pump Hand Sanitizer
• AAA batteries

Animal welfare groups are swinging into action, including Brother Wolf in Asheville. They’re aiding the animals of evacuees, as well as any animals that need help.

With smoke from the fires covering Western North Carolina, air quality has been dangerous at times. Go here to check air quality for the area.

Mark File of RomanticAsheville.com is updating the status of the fires here.

Image link for NOC fire photo by Mark File.

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