Drought conditions in Western North Carolina have contributed to the uptick in incidences of wildfires in the National Forests. According to the U.S. Forest Service, a fire that began on Collett Ridge on Oct. 23, 4 miles south of Andrews, has yet to be contained and as of Wednesday morning has grown to 3,918 acres. Currently 120 personnel are fighting the fire.
Smoke from the Collett Ridge Fire, along with a fire in the East Fork community of Jackson County, a Henderson County fire and others, prompted a Code Red air quality alert on Monday by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality [NCDEQ]. The inversion layer, which causes the smoke to settle into the valley generally lifts by mid-day, improving visibility and air quality. The NCDEQ downgraded to a code Orange Health Advisory for southwest North Carolina, for fine particulates, due to smoke from ongoing wildfires. Active children and older adults, and people with a respiratory disease such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
Macon County issued a burn ban on Monday which prohibits “open burning within 100 feet of a dwelling including burning leaves, branches or other plant material. The ban will remain in effect until further notice.”
Two houses burn
On Friday, Nov. 3, a call came into 911 around 8:30 p.m., reporting smoke coming from a residence on Roller Mill Road. Fire fighters from Franklin, Clarks Chapel and West Macon were dispatched and arrived at the scene observing heavy smoke coming from the single story structure. A report issued by Emergency Services indicated the fire began in the chimney. By about 9:15 p.m., fire fighters had put the fire out. No one was injured in the fire, but due to smoke and water damage the family of four virtually lost all their belongings. Donations are being accepted at Goin’ Postal and Sonrise Sanitation.
Items needed: Women: size 1x, shoes size 8 1/2-9; Men: 34×30 pants, large shirt, 9 1/2 shoes, size 10 boots; 17-year-old girl: women’s size 2x tops, XL leggings, 8 1/2 size shoes; 11-year-old girl: juniors size 13/15, shoe size 7 1/2; 15-year-old boy: 1x shirts, 36×30 pants, shoe size 11; 2-year-old boy: 3T clothing, shoe size 9.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Austin McConnell, his wife and two children.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, a call came in to dispatch reporting a structure fire at 250 Silver Spruce Lane, at around 1:45 a.m., with children and animals still inside. Multiple fire departments and emergency service personnel responded. Valerie Welch, 27, and Luna Welch, age 4, lost their lives. Surviving were Forrest Welch and Silas Welch. Online condolences may be left at www.hunterfuneralhomega.com. A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist the Welch family.