Smoke from wildfires to spread

Credit: WSPA
Credit: WSPA

PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Twenty wildfires are burning thousands of acres across Western North Carolina.

The North Carolina governor has declared a State of Emergency for counties in the western part of the state, and people are having to evacuate their homes.

Officials say the dry weather and lack of rain over the past few weeks are causing these fires to grow rapidly.

Ruthie and Neal Carlson are vacationing on a resort at Pinnacle Mountain in Pickens County where a wildfire started burning yesterday.

“We noticed this morning that small pieces of ash were landing on our car,” Neal Carlson said.

The fire on Pinnacle Mountain spread quickly. South Carolina forestry officials say the fire had burned less than an acre Wednesday evening. By Thursday evening that number was up to 250 acres.

“When the humidity is low the fuel burns a lot easier, then you have wind pushing it, and slopes of the mountains, fire burns uphill very fast,” Michael Bozzo, the regional forester said.

In North Carolina, a wildfire at Lake Lure nearly doubled in size overnight which forced around 50 people to evacuate.

“You’re in such a panic trying to get out of your home you forget things like shampoo,” said Amy Brevard, who had to evacuate her home.

Governor McCrory  issued a State of Emergency because the fires have become so hard to contain.

“This is extremely dangerous,” Gov. Pat McCrory said. “Dangerous for the firefighters and possibly dangerous for the structures and people in and around these fires.”

Firefighters say getting to the fires on the rugged terrain has been one of the biggest challenges. They are having to ATV and hike up narrow, rocky trails. And because there are so many wildfires, resources are thinner than normal.

“The Southeastern states have a compact agreement where we help each other out, but everyone’s having their own problems right now,” Bozzo said.

Officials say because of the low humidity they’re expecting the fires to spread even more throughout the night.

Bozzo says the conditions are too dangerous for firefighters to work throughout the night. But, they’ll continue digging the fire lines Friday morning. He says fortunately there are no homes in the path for the Pinnacle Mountain fire.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a burning ban Wednesday, November 9 for Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens and Spartanburg counties. The commission extended the ban to all piedmont counties effective 6 p.m. Thursday.

Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union and York Counties are now under a burning ban.

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