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Governor McCrory expands State of Emergency to 22 additional counties impacted by wildfire

Governor McCrory expands State of Emergency to 22 additional counties impacted by wildfires. 47 total counties now under State of Emergency. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff) e all selected)

Governor Pat McCrory has expanded a State of Emergency to cover 22 additional counties to help the state combat the ongoing spread of wildfires in western North Carolina. The governor joined firefighters, emergency management officials and volunteers today at the Macon County Incident Command Post Center to provide an update on the state’s response to the wildfires.

Macon County is one of 47 total counties now included in the State of Emergency due to wildfires. The N.C. Forest Service has issued a burning ban on all open burning and cancelled burning permits in these 47 counties.

“As we approach Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for the firefighters, first responders and volunteers who have sacrificed so much to help save lives and protect property in North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “This designation will help ensure counties threatened by wildfires and our emergency responders will have the tools needed to fight the most serious and dangerous fires we have experienced in North Carolina in decades.”

The 22 counties added to the State of Emergency include: Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Cabarrus, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond, Rockingham, Rowan, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union, Wilkes and Yadkin.

The 25 counties covered by the original State of Emergency include: Alexander, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties.

Governor McCrory emphasized that the state’s top priorities continue to be safety, protecting structures, containment, controlling costs and mitigating air quality, environmental and economic concerns in western North Carolina.

Nearly 3,000 active personnel from across the state and country are now involved in fighting the wildfires in North Carolina that have burned more than 69,000 acres. While nearly 2,300 structures have been threatened in the state, only two were destroyed. The estimated cost of the wildfires is nearly $30 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved Governor McCrory's request for financial assistance which allows FEMA to pay for 75 percent of the costs of fire suppression activities. To date, FEMA has approved two Fire Management Assistance Grants for the Party Rock and Chestnut Knob fires.

In support of the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Emergency Management's Helo-Aquatic Rescue Team has deployed a N.C. National Guard Blackhawk helicopter and local rescue technicians to perform any rescues necessary from wildfire fighting operations.

To date, there have been evacuations ordered in Clay, Graham, Henderson, Macon, Rutherford, Swain and Watauga counties. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter in Watauga County and a shelter is on standby in Burke County.

Currently, N.C. 80 is closed in McDowell County up to the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Yancey County line.

Governor McCrory reminded the public that the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for setting wildfires. Anyone with information about these wildfires should contact Macon County Crimestoppers at 828-349-2600 or Jackson County Crimestoppers at 828-631-1125.

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