Heavy wildfire activity continues in North Carolina and Georgia

map fires NC GA SC

Above: The map shows the location of some of the larger wildfires in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia November 11, 2016.

(UPDATED at 4:59 p.m. ET November 11, 2016)

The intense wildfire activity that has been going on for weeks in the southeast United States ramped up a bit over the last 24 hours as extremely low relative humidities allowed some of the blazes to continue to spread aggressively Thursday night. A weather station southeast of Asheville, NC 9 miles northwest of the 977-acre Party Rock Fire recorded 9 percent RH early Friday morning. Night time humidities in that part of the country are usually far above 50 percent at night.

The good news is the conditions will moderate a little over the next several days after the passage of a cold front.

weather forecast asheville NC
Weather forecast for the area southeast of Asheville, NC through November 18, 2016. NWS.

There are currently 31 uncontained wildfires in the Southern Geographic Area. Here some other numbers about the fires in the region (data from the National Interagency Coordination Center and the Southern Area Coordination Center):

  • 10 Incident Management Teams deployed or en route (3 Type 1 teams, 6 Type 2 teams, and 2 Type 3 teams)
  • 77,507 acres have burned in the fires that are still active
  • 136 hand crews
  • 184 engines
  • 12 air tankers (4 large and 3 single engine)
  • 14 air attack ships
  • 34 helicopters (11 large Type 1, 5 medium Type 2) and 18 Type 3)
  • 3,067 total personnel assigned
list of wildfires southeast
List of some of the larger wildfires in the southeast U.S. on November 11, 2016. Data from SACC. Click to enlarge.

Fire behavior on the fires continues to be extreme. The Energy Release Component percentiles are above the 90th percentile throughout the region and many areas are setting record high values for this time of year. The 1,000 hour time-lag fuel moistures are below the third percentile. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index values are above the 97th percentile.

And, during this period of unusually dry weather, crews and engines continue to be in short supply and in very high demand.

Evacuations are currently underway at the Party Rock Fire near Chimney Rock, 18 miles southeast of Asheville, NC.

Here are a few details about other fires:

  • Rock Mountain Fire: in northeast Georgia, 8 miles west of Dillard. 300 acres; 42 structures threatened; 40 personnel assigned.
  • Boteler Fire: 4,767 acres; 6 miles east of Hayesville, NC; 314 structures threatened; 538 personnel assigned; costs to date $3.1 million.
  • Tellico Fire: 6,839 acres; 3 miles south of Almond, NC; 137 personnel assigned; 336 structures threatened.
  • Maple Springs: 5,083 acres; north of Santeetlah Lake in North Carolina; 29 structures threatened; 192 personnel assigned.
  • Rough Ridge: 10,336 acres; 13 miles west of Blue Ridge, Georgia; 48 structures threatened; 227 personnel assigned.

We had hoped to get an updated satellite photo showing smoke from the fires, but Friday afternoon’s overflight shows mostly clouds. However there appear to be some streaks of smoke blowing into northwest South Carolina between Charlotte and Greenville.

Satellite photo wildfires
Satellite photo, Friday afternoon, November 11, 2016. NASA.

For the latest articles at Wildfire Today about wildfire smoke check out the articles tagged “smoke”.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

69 thoughts on “Heavy wildfire activity continues in North Carolina and Georgia”

    1. I live in Polk County on Lake Adger which is 12 miles south of Chimney Rock. Currently (11/12/16 12:32 pm) there is heavy smoke blowing down our cove near the dam next to Hwy 9. Saw ash falling yesterday. Prayers to all responders and those evacuated.

      1. So are we. My daughter tells me that little ones with asthma are being taken to ER, in case you have someone with asthma. They can smell the smoke, though. They live off of Brainerd Rd going toward downtown.

  1. The Tallulah River/Coleman River fire is not shown on these maps. A mandatory evacuation was issued yesterday (Friday) for folks in that area. 25 to 40 homes affected……

      1. At the time I made that post, I must admit, I didn’t know the “official” names to those fires. But now that I’ve found out, I was referring to the Rock Mountain Fire. Rabun County also had a big 2nd fire, named Timber Ridge, that as of yesterday afternoon, was 100% contained, but still smoldering. I spoke with 2 Forestry firefighters yesterday who had just come off the Rock Mountain fire yesterday afternoon, and they looked exhausted. They said that it was maybe 15 to 20% contained, but they were worried about today’s estimated 25 to 30 mph winds with gusts to 35, for fear of both jumping containment lines, and spreading. One said that the Rock River fire grew by 1500 acres during calm conditions over just a 36 hour period because it’s so dry. With wind it’s gonna be bad. We have moderate smoke here (SW side of Lake Burton) near Batesville, this morning (Saturday, November 19) and right now (7:45am) no wind. Pray for rain.

        1. It’s now 8:10 am on Saturday morning, and the wind has picked up to around 20 mph and gusting. Amazing what just 25 minutes can do……praying for the firefighters and our 30 % chance of morning rain…..

  2. Whom ever is doing this should be put in jail for yrs. Wild life..homes…tax payer cost due to people putting their life on the line. This is so sad. Maybe they need a job like so many others who cause trouble.

    1. 2 miles north at folkstone rd is burning hard. I came acrossi as it had just started to get bad. Looked like it could possably jump highway 17 into holly shelter game lands

        1. North of Holly Ridge, NC at Hwy US-17 and Folkstone Rd.
          A control burn that got out of control I heard,

      1. We are planning vacation Dec 16 in Bryson City hope all is well by that time so sad hearing this devastation of the areas involved

          1. Murphy, and Ranger are in NC, and Culberson is in GA. It’s right in the tri-state area with TN (Duck Town/Copper Hill)

  3. It is Sunday around 12:00 pm here in Kodak, tn and we are seeing quite a lot of smoke in our area! Wasn’t so bad earlier this morning, but after arriving home from church it has gotten worse. Can’t hardly step outside without coughing and not able to breathe in much. God keep the people involved in fighting this mess safe and watch over them and us all!

  4. How about clayton Georgia and Blackrock mountain state park? Have reservations in the area for next weekend?

  5. I am in the Bethel Community of Haywood County, NC. Approximately 5 miles East of Waynesville. How likely in all opinions are these fires likely to reach me?

    1. Joey — There are two small fires, or at least heat sources detected by satellites, 7 and 11 miles away from Bethel, NC. There are currently no large wildland fires anywhere near Bethel.

  6. Was thinking of renting a cabin in Blueridge next February. I’m sure the fires will be extinguished by then but was wondering on what the current effects are in that area.

  7. How close to Spartanburg county is any fire, I live in Lyman lake area an it is slightly hazy and the smell of smoke in the air!and it’s not the smell of someone burning wood in a fire place it has slight pungent smell to it. Please answer question. Thank you

  8. What can I do to help support the fire fighters around Blue Ridge. Is there a website that gives you a what to do list in case of evacuation? How close should you let a fire get before you start packing?

    1. Sue, I’m much too far away to predict where the fires will burn, but as of Sunday night the Rock Mountain Fire was 7 to 10 miles away from Dillard and Sky Valley.

  9. We are going to a cabin in Blairsville, GA this weekend. Do you know if this area is affected? Should we be worried?

    1. Blairsville is even farther east than Blue Ridge. I’m not there myself but by the looks of the map, if the fire doesn’t spread eastward, I would say you’d be fine. BUT… I am no professional so you may not want to take my opinion 100%.

  10. my mom lives 12 miles NW of Blue Ridge, exactly how much advance warning would she get if she were to need to evacuate with the animals? She’s already restricting the amount of time she lets the dogs out in the smokey air.

  11. We have rented a cabin Saturday through Wednesday (Nov 19-23) in Morganton, GA. Can you tell me about fire and smoke for this area. I really hate to spend the money if we are not going to be able to go outside.

  12. What about the AT around the Amicola/ Springer Mtn area? We have a day hike planned there next week.

    1. There’s no fire there but smoke depending on the wind. I was there last weekend and it was fine! Just depends on the wind!

    2. I thought I read somewhere that the AT was closed…..one because of the danger and two because of an arsonist on the loose….might want to check to see if you will even be able to hike it.

  13. Yes, we are heading to Blue ridge the week of Thanksgiving. I am hoping and praying for all the firefighters and all that are heading that way will be safe. I hope we will be able to get up there.

  14. I live in the Franklin and Jackson county area in Georgia and it’s so smokey down her it’s hard to breath and giving people headache

  15. I have a home in the Ranger area, which is just west of Murphy, between 64 and Nantahala Forest. Can you tell what is happening there. Is the fire stillburning? It is Wednesday, early morning.

  16. Heading to Gatlinburg on Fri. 11/18 for vacation through 11/22. I’m sure there’s smoke, but just wondering how close any of the fires were to Gatlinburg area? Thanks!

  17. A friend and I are heading to the Maggie Valley, NC area from Greenville, SC this weekend. I was wondering if this area is affected by the fires and if it is still safe to travel there?

  18. Looking to obtain an update on the fires in/around/near Sky Valley GA

    Thank you and God bless everyone who is impacted and all emergency responders

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