Reward offered for suspects as western wildfire burn

Party Rock fire burns in the mountains over Lake LureSource: N.C. Emergency Management

LAKE LURE — Nearly 50,000 acres of forest have burned in wildfires across western N.C. as firefighters continue to work on containing 15 fires in the state. This week air quality across much of the west and into the Charlotte area was rated a Code Red for smoke. In a press conference Gov. Pat McCrory offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to arrest of those responsible for setting the fires, many of which they believe are man-made.”We are committed to doing all we can to support our firefighters, protect people and property, and find those who may be responsible for any wildfires in North Carolina,” said McCrory. “Firefighters are making progress but the job is not over. I especially want to thank the volunteers serving as firefighters and those helping to feed, house and support firefighters in communities throughout our state.”Dry weather and sustained 30-50 mph winds are challenging firefighters, with the South Mountain State Park fire giving them the most difficulty. The Party Rock fire near Lake Lure has consumed 3,400 acres but the largest fire is the Tellico fire, 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.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.With a long battle against the flames anticipated, Agricululture Commissioner Steve Troxler is working to bring Thanksgiving dinner to firefighters.”Plans are being ironed out and as of now the Baptist Men are cooking at two of the locations, one at Lake Lure, one at Franklin, and our research stations division is cooking for the site at Robbinsville,” said Troxler’s spokesman, Bill Yarborough.To send thank you notes to firefighters working hard this Thanksgiving week write to:Command Post2128 S Sterling StMorganton, North Carolina, 28655