LAKE LURE One thousand more people were evacuated from the Chimney Rock area in Rutherford County as wildfires continue to burn in the western part of the state. The air quality across much of the west and into the Charlotte area was rated a Code Red this week, but Lincoln and Gaston counties were reported to have the most smoke density due to the fires. In a press conference Gov. Pat McCrory said that dry conditions have exacerbated the situation, but investigators believe many of the fires were initiated by people.”We have California wildfires in North Carolina and they continue to cause serious challenges for our firefighter community, for towns throughout western North Carolina, and they continue to use a lot of resources and impact our environment,” said McCrory. “We are working together as a team among mayors, county commissioners, state officials, the federal government and firefighters to address our priorities of containing these fires and protecting the safety of our first responders, citizens and structures.”The Party Rock Fire near Lake Lure has consumed 3,400 acres but the largest fire is the Tellico Fire which is burning on more than 13,000 acres in Swain and Macon counties. The Tellico blaze also led to a rock slide that closed a 10-mile section of highway in the Nantahala Gorge. Two other fires are the Boteler Fire near Hayesville and the Maple Springs Fire.Clay County’s evacuation order has been lifted, but parts of the Appalachian Trail and other highways remain closed with campfires banned all along the trail and borders with Georgia and Tennessee. A state of emergency remains in effect for 25 western N.C. counties.
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