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50,000 Acres Burned In Western NC Wildfires

Near the Tennessee border, firefighters monitor a burnout operation along the Cheoah River
North Carolina Forest Service
Wildfires have burned tens of thousands of acres of forest land in western North Carolina.

North Carolina's wildfires have now burned 50,000 acres of forest land. More than 2,000 firefighters have been battling 15 fires for three weeks in the western part of the state. 

They're still working to contain one fire near Lake Lure that has scorched about 6,000 acres. The Party Rock Fire has been known to jump containment lines since it was sparked nearly two weeks ago. McCrory said firefighters are gaining ground by using major roads as barriers. 


He said firefighters are managing to keep the blaze away from homes, and he asked residents to pray for rain.


“That's what we need now more than anything else and some more humid conditions, but right now the weather forecast doesn't look good for that either.,” McCrory said. “That's why we've got to be so vigilant to make sure no new fires start and we want to make sure there's no burning whatsoever."


McCrory said the ongoing dry conditions in western North Carolina could fuel the fire through the winter.


“I was told two or three days ago we could continue to have these very serious fire conditions through March,” he said. “So we're hoping some of the weather conditions for the winter change.”


McCrory has offered a $10,000 reward for information that helps authorities investigate the fires. They suspect the fires were set intentionally.


Burn bans are still in effect throughout western North Carolina. 

Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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