Chatham County fire marshal warns against outdoor burning as wildfires rage in western NC

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — The Chatham County fire marshal issued a warning to residents Wednesday that outdoor burning could potentially lead to wildfires as conditions are very dry in the area.

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The warning comes as communities and firefighters deal with nearly 20 wildfires currently raging in the western part of North Carolina.

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Chatham County’s fire marshal said that residents are urged to not burn debris outdoors and to watch campfires as well. The area has not received much rainfall since Hurricane Matthew, which has led to extremely dry conditions which could very easily lead to fires.

Residents were being evacuated in the North Carolina mountains Tuesday as thousands of acres continued to burn in at least 18 wildfires that have doubled in acreage since the weekend.

The North Carolina Forest Service has issued a ban on open burning across the western part of the state because of increased fire risk amid the current drought.

Evacuations began Tuesday afternoon in the Rutherford County town of Lake Lure as wildfires continued to go nearby and after a state of emergency was declared by the mayor on Monday.

Near Rumbling Bald Resort, the fire at Party Rock, which grew to 344 acres from 300 acres on Tuesday, is threatening Lake Lure, officials said Tuesday night.

Tuesday afternoon, emergency personnel were going door to door to evacuate Lake Lure residents in the Quail Ridge area and Huntington Road areas of Rumbling Bald Resort, town officials said in a statement.

Wildfires encompassing more than 7,000 acres continue to burn across western North Carolina as the region awaits a break in the recent run of dry weather.

As of Sunday, the acreage involved was just over 3,000, but more than doubled in the last three days, officials say.

The smoke from the fires was dense enough to show up on weather radar and smoke was forecast to head toward N.C. beaches, the Wilmington National Weather Service office said.

As of Nov. 6, there had been more than 2,800 wildfires affecting more than 18,000 acres on state-protected lands across North Carolina this year.

The burn ban affects the following 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.

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was issued.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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