Arsonists suspected as wildfires rage in South

Regolare Commento Stampare

Wind gusts up to 35 miles per hour were possible Wednesday in western North Carolina, which holds the potential for "very active fire behavior", fire officials said in the latest update on blazes in that state. Almost 300 people are battling that fire, which already consumed 10,000 acres, the Forest Service said.

The Southern Area Red Team recommended to Clay County an evacuation of local residents in the vicinity of the Boteler Fire, specifically Nelson Ridge Road, south on Cold Branch Road to Highway 64, east to Pounding Mill Road. The evacuation was prompted by a major fire run up to and crossing the Shumont Mountain containment line Friday.

Firefighters were battling three active wildfires on Thursday, Oct. 10, in Alabama, where 80 percent of the land is choked by the drought that is drying up streams and lakes and killing plants, and authorities this week extended a ban on outdoor burning to cover the entire state.

A division spokesman said people planning to visit other state parks in the western part of the state are advised to check the division's web site at http://www.ncparks.gov/ before making the trip.

According to Seth Hawkins with the Georgia Forestry Commission, officials responded to over 29 wildfires in Georgia on Thursday, including one that is burning on Lookout Mountain not far from Mentone.

Several public water systems in Western North Carolina have asked their customers to institute voluntary water conservation measures.

In a news release on Thursday, Gov.

"It's a long way away, but it's finally getting here", said Douglas Berry, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston. The fire has not affected the park, but the N.C. Forest Service asked for the closure to help ease traffic congestion while firefighters continue to fight the growing blaze. Firefighters in Alabama have battled more than 1,100 fires that have charred almost 12,000 acres in the last month.

A number of the fires are being investigated as suspected arson, but natural causes and conditions are also responsible for blazes, Haines said.

Governor Pat McCrory announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved his request for financial assistance to fight the wildfires now burning in western North Carolina. Tennessee authorities also reported arrests for arson and burning violations.

Over 5,000 firefighters and staff supporting the effort from across the nation have joined forces to assist. Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina all have fierce fires.