wildfires

The U.S. Forest Service says is arson is the suspected cause of a wildfire reported Sunday night near the Lake Appalachia Dam in Cherokee County.  It’s estimated at 80 acres in size on land owned by the Forest Service and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  

Firefighters have completely contained a wildfire in McDowell County that started earlier this week, but not until it grew to 200 acres in size.  The fire was first reported Monday afternoon north of Marion in the Turkey Cove community just off of route 226A north.  Initially, it was only 30 acres in size, but that grew quickly Tuesday.  But thanks to rain that started falling overnight, firefighters were able to quickly able to extinguish most of the flames.  No homes or other structures were damaged by the fire according to the U.S.

globalchange.gov

If you suffer from allergies, you may have noticed you sneezed a little longer this fall.  But you may not have linked that extra sneezing to global warming.  Scientists and Public Health officials met in Asheville last week for a workshop on the climate health connection.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

Davin Eldridge

With last year’s wildfires still fresh in the minds of many Western Carolinians, safety experts are telling mountain residents to be prepared in case it happens again. BPR News’s Davin Eldridge has more…

Last fall, more than 50,000 acres of land burned in Western North Carolina, including many homes.  So this year, efforts are underway to prevent that, with the help of the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise USA program.

Davin Eldridge

Last year’s wave of wildfires is still fresh in the mind's of many mountain residents.  Whether that was a one-time event or the new normal is something environmental groups from Western North Carolina are trying to figure out.

It was a packed house at Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, as well over a hundred residents  turned out for the “Before We Burn Again” panel discussion. 

Colin Campbell/News & Observer

There were more protests and arrests Friday as lawmakers continued their surprise additional special session to limit the powers of Democratic Governor-elect Roy Cooper.  On party-line votes, both chambers passed SB4, a bill that includes broad election changes.  It was quickly signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory, according to House Speaker Tim Moore.  The legislature also passed HB17, which restricts Cooper's ability to make appointments.

State lawmakers will convene in Raleigh Tuesday to deal with disaster relief, but the agenda is open-ended.

Lame duck Republican Governor Pat McCrory called this gathering to deal with disaster relief stemming from Hurricane Matthew and mountain wildfires in western North Carolina, as well as “for the purpose of addressing any other matters the General Assembly elects to consider.”

Gov. Pat McCrory says he'll ask the General Assembly to approve $200 million in emergency funding during the special session that begins Tuesday. The money will help pay for cleanup and recovery after flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina in late September and wildfires in western North Carolina since October.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities have charged two juveniles with starting an East Tennessee wildfire that killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 1,700 buildings.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, local District Attorney General James Dunn and Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced charges at a news conference Wednesday.

More Rain This Week Could Return Air Quality To Normal

Dec 7, 2016
U.S. Forest Service

More rain expected late Monday and early Tuesday could return air quality conditions in western North Carolina to normal for the first time since a rash of wildfires broke out at the beginning of November.  

"I guess I was just bored," Keith Mann of Franklin, N.C. told the U.S. Forest Service when questioned why he set two fires in Macon County.

The Forest Service says it began investigating him after he called 911 to report the second fire. After an agent began questioning him, Mann admitted it was him all along who set the fires. He told the agent he used a box of kitchen matches.

U.S. Forest Service

The first arrest for arson in the rash of wildfires in western North Carolina has been made.  Authorities took Keith Mann of Franklin into custody on Tuesday.  He appeared in federal court today in Asheville for the first time.  Mann is accused of setting two small wildfires in Macon County.  

Fall Wildfires Impact WNC Tourism As Holidays Approach

Nov 28, 2016
Davin Eldridge

Despite some of the thickest smoke yet from Western North Carolina’s wildfires, the town of Franklin’s annual Christmas Parade went off as planned, bringing hundreds of onlookers to the downtown area. The parade proved to be a defiant show of solidarity among locals in the face of the wildfires, as well as a show of support for the hundreds of firefighters who took part in the event—proving that the spirit of the community would not be so easily broken as the holiday season kicks into high gear. “It’s a real testament to the community that, despite the environmental disasters, it can come f

Wildfires and a prolonged drought appear to have spared North Carolina's Christmas tree farms this year. The state is a top producer of the holiday staple nationally.

Unhealthy air is now covering the region, as smokes creeps east from wildfires in western North Carolina. You can see it as you walk down the street. From above, it's even more dramatic, says . WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks. He flew over the fire zone Friday and has this report:

North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center

Crews fighting wildfires throughout western North Carolina reported progress in containing wildfires in Clay, Swain, and Macon Counties.  But the Party Rock fire near Lake Lure and Chimney Rock continues to grow, and authorities believe that will only increase later this week.

Firefighters are entering a third week of battling more than a dozen wildfires in western North Carolina. 

The fires have been fueled by weeks of mostly sunny and dry conditions. 

Nearly 1,600 firefighters are now fighting wildfires that have burned 40,000 acres across western North Carolina over the past three weeks. Gov. Pat McCrory says the state has spent $10 million fighting the fires so far.

ncwg.gov

The U.S. Forest Service says all but one of the wildfires burning in western North Carolina was caused by man-made forces.  That includes the 'suspicion of arson', but that does not mean the fires were caused on purpose.  Only further investigation will be able to confirm that.

The more than 20 wildfires burning throughout western North Carolina have been aided by severe drought conditions and continued windy, dry weather.  Rain is forecast to fall finally in the region, but not until next Wednesday morning.

Two Large WNC Wildfires Mostly Contained

Apr 21, 2016
Maddy Jones/Asheville Citizen-Times

The North Carolina Forest Service says two large wildfires burning in the mountains are mostly contained.  Kerry Lathrop in the Region 3 command center tells WCQS a 1,050 acre blaze in Madison County along the North Carolina/Tennessee line is about 80 percent contained.  A 243 acre fire burning in Macon County called the Buck Knob fire is said to be 100 percent contained.  Drier conditions have helped contribute to the fires.  Rain is in the forecast Friday for western North Carolina.

Firefighters Busy in Western North Carolina

Mar 18, 2016
Maddy Jones/Asheville Citizen-Times

Firefighters have been busy the past few days fighting a number of wildfires in western North Carolina.  A 50-acre blaze near Fairview is mostly contained.  A 165-acre fire is on the McDowell-Rutherford County line.  Michael Cheek of the North Carolina Forest Service says there were an additional 15 to 20 smaller fires yesterday.  But he says that's not unusual this time of year.

Cheek says people should be careful burning debris, especially while it's dry.  Rain is in the forecast for this weekend and Cheek says people should hold off on burns until after the ground is wetter.