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Environment

NC Wildfires Cover 73 Square Miles; 1,000 People Asked To Evacuate

Near the Tennessee border, firefighters monitor a burnout operation along the Cheoah River
North Carolina Forest Service
Near the Tennessee border, firefighters monitor a burnout operation along the Cheoah River

Authorities have ordered more evacuations near Lake Lure as a nearby wildfire continues to spread. 

The state Forest Service says more than 1,000 people have now been asked to leave their homes.  The fire is one of more than a dozen that have burned 47,000 acres in western North Carolina. 

Forest Service spokeswoman Victoria Tillotson said the fire near Lake Lure is only 19 percent contained, but firefighters hoped to take advantage of slightly better air quality conditions Wednesday.

"The smoke is actually kind of starting to rise today," Tillotson said.

The Party Rock Fire has burned nearly 5,000 acres, and Tillotson said it has been especially aggressive, making it the second-highest priority fire in the country.

"Usually (a fire) kind of slows down (at night) and gives firefighters a break. But this one, we've found that it continues to maintain its activity throughout the night," she said.

Firefighters are battling blazes all over the Southeast. Police were still investigating the North Carolina fires as possible arson cases.

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