Wildfires continue to burn in Western North Carolina

HAYESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- At least a dozen wildfires continue to burn in western North Carolina.

Fire officials said in a news release late Sunday that nearly 350 firefighters were trying to contain the blazes in the Nantahala Ranger District.

The largest is the Boteler fire near Hayesville in Clay County. More than 1,600 acres have burned since the fire started Oct. 25. Firefighters say the fire is only about 10 percent contained.

The second largest fire was at Tellico northwest of Franklin. Officials said more than 1,100 acres have burned. Officials say the fire was reported last Thursday and is only about 25 percent contained. Part of the Appalachian Trail is closed by the fires.

Gov. Pat McCrory visited the Hayesville command site over the weekend to get a briefing on the fires.

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At last update at 4pm Saturday, the USDA Forest Service says over 2600 acres are on fire in the Nantahala National Forest in Southwestern North Carolina.

Fires have been starting and spreading in several different counties since October 23rd, with several starting as recently as November 3rd.

On Sunday, Governor Pat McCrory visited Clay County to speak with local fire officials about their efforts to combat the blaze, which McCrory says is the result of drought conditions.

"We have hundreds upon hundreds of acres that are under fire, causing tremendous smoke. Our team is working together to deal with these fires. This is extremely dangerous work because they are accessing areas that are not accessible by road, and of course, if the wind direction changes at any time, these men and women put their lives at risk," said Governor McCrory.

McCrory says a National Guard Blackhawk helicopter will be on standby should any firefighters need to be rescued.

No homes are threatened at this time.

Updates on conditions and firefighting efforts can be found on the USDA Forest Service website.