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Governor McCrory Declares State Of Emergency As Wildfires Rage

forest fire
North Carolina Forest Service

 

Governor Pat McCrory is declaring a state of emergency in 25 western counties as firefighters battle more than 20  forest fires burning in North Carolina's stretch of the Appalachian mountains.

"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," McCrory said as he issued the declaration Thursday.

Per the governor's declaration, a National Guard helicopter and technicians will be deployed to assist in rescues should they become necessary.

Wildfires have torched forests across the western part of the state, fueled by drier-than-usual weather conditions. One wildfire in Clay County grew larger Wednesday, imperiling a number of nearby homes and prompting county officials to urge residents to evacuate.

Meanwhile in Rutherford County, another wildfire has grown to encompass nearly 900 acres of forest near the town of Lake Lure, prompting businesses to close and residents to evacuate. Graham, Macon, and Swain counties have similarly urged residents in some areas to evacuate as other wildfires draw near.

In addition to North Carolina, large fires are being fought in Tennessee and Kentucky. Federal authorities say warmer than average temperatures and a lack of rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking the fires.

A national drought report published Thursday shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 southern states now live in drought conditions. The worst is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.