Wildfires burning across the South have created a smoky haze over metro Atlanta and prompted a public health advisory in Kentucky - and the forests are expected to continue burning for days as flaming leaves fall to the ground and spread the fire, authorities said Wednesday.
Reuter says it's never an easy decision to close parks but the priority now is protecting life and property.
More than 560 firefighters and staff from at least 40 states were battling 18 blazes in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina, and state climatologist Rebecca Ward said some counties are having one of their driest years in 105 years of record-keeping.
That apparently isn't stopping organizers of this weekend's Charlotte Marathon.
There have been states of emergency declared in some of the areas that have been affected in order to gain a response to the crisis and state funding to address the blazes.
He says the wildfires already burned up to 6,200 acres in Bledsoe, Hamilton, Monroe and Sequatchie counties in the past month, and 53 fires are now burning over almost 9,680 acres in Tennessee. "There's not even a trickle going over the falls", campground manager Kaila Fair said.
No arrests have been reported in those fires, but arson arrests have been made in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Gov. Pat McCrory says the federal government has approved a request for money to fight the wildfires burning in western North Carolina.
U.S. Forest Service officials began their airborne assault Friday against the fire in Fannin County from the Dalton airport.
The state of emergency is in effect for 25 counties including 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 counties. Tennessee authorities also reported arrests for arson and burning violations.
"That may contribute to some of those hidden embers potentially escaping and causing the fire to escape our containment lines and threaten homes once again" Dellinger said.
"The national drought report shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 Southern states living in drought conditions". "We're also probably getting a mix of our fires along with fires from our neighbors from Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina". Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina all have fierce fires.