Wildfires rage across southern Appalachians Lieutenant Jesse Mooney, of the Flat Top Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, carries a hose as firefighters battle a wildfire Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. Federal authorities say warmer-than-average temperatures and no rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking forest fires across the Southeastern U.S. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey/Abigail Margulis/The Asheville Citizen-Times via AP)
Wildfires rage across southern Appalachians
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Many of the nation's largest active wildfires have been burning in the southern Appalachian mountains. A relentless drought has turned pine trees into torches and forced evacuations in dozens of communities.
 
More than 5,000 firefighters and support staff from around the nation have poured into the Southeast to try to suppress these fires, said Shardul Raval, director of fire and aviation management for the southern region of the U.S. Forest Service.
 
The effort includes about 40 aircraft. These include three large air tankers flying out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Tens of thousands of acres of forest have burned, and about a dozen of the largest fires were uncontained, the forest service said.
 
High winds and temperatures and weeks without rain have combined to spark blaze after blaze in the unusually dry landscape. Numerous teams reported wind-driven fires racing up slopes and down ravines. Firefighters struggled to protect hundreds of threatened structures.
 
"It just smells like a campfire" along the Appalachian Trail in north Georgia, said Carlie Gentry, who works at the Mountain Crossings store at Walasi-yi, a popular stop for hikers.
 
"For weeks up here we've been having smoke. But it is getting more intense for sure," Gentry said. Typically, the view stretches for miles, she said. Now, "you can hardly see to the next ridge."
 
Parts of 15 Southern states are living in drought conditions. The worst is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. But extreme drought also is spreading into the western Carolinas. Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina all have fierce fires.
 
"We're kind of holding our own," said Jennifer Turner. She is a spokeswoman for Kentucky's state Division of Forestry. "We've been able to get control over some of the smaller fires."
 
But with humidity so low in the normally lush Appalachians and Great Smoky Mountains, authorities are bracing for more. North Carolina's Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for a fourth of his state's 100 counties.
 
More than 560 firefighters and staff from at least 40 states were battling 18 blazes in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina. State climatologist Rebecca Ward said some counties are having one of their driest years in 105 years of record-keeping.
 
Smoke blowing southward has blanketed Atlanta and other cities in haze.
 
In Alabama, drought is choking 80 percent of the land. Streams and lakes are drying up. Plants are turning to tinder. Firefighters in the state have battled more than 1,100 fires. These have charred nearly 12,000 acres in the last month.
 
Tuscaloosa and Birmingham have both tied or broken records for days without measurable rain. Neither has had more than sprinkles since late September. And Noccalula Falls, a popular attraction on Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama, has been bone dry for weeks.
 
"The creek is dry. There's not even a trickle going over the falls," campground manager Kaila Fair said.
 
One of the largest blazes was spreading rapidly in the Cohutta Wilderness area. That's just south of the Georgia-Tennessee line. Nearly 300 people are battling that fire, which has consumed 10,000 acres, the Forest Service said.
 
In the hills outside Chattanooga, firefighters were trying to save homes on both Signal Mountain and Mowbray Mountain. They may get reinforcements. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would reimburse most of one fire's costs after a request from Tennessee.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why do firefighters come from so many states?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (21)
  • wcaroline-dav
    11/26/2016 - 04:04 p.m.

    They come from so many states because if it is a huge fire like a forest fire or a wild fire they need a lot of strength and capability to do it. In that case if more than one group or state of firefighters come they can try to take out the fire before it starts to spread and become even bigger.

  • metau-cel
    11/28/2016 - 09:54 a.m.

    Fire fighters come from so many states because so many of them are needed. Wildfires are so hard to put out and constantly on the move so it takes so many firefighters to just keep the fire down. The fire is also on the move so many of the firefighters travel around to put the fire out. The main reason they come from so many states is because it takes so many men to put out such a large out of control fire.

  • numaira-bur
    11/28/2016 - 12:54 p.m.

    Why firefighters come from many states to take out fires is because the fire maybe so big that they would need to get as many firefighters as needed to take out the fire!

  • richardk-orv
    11/28/2016 - 06:03 p.m.

    If they have more people they could put the fires quickly or they could go aircraft and some on ground.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    11/29/2016 - 01:32 p.m.

    The fires are raging out of control. They can be caused in many ways, but the fires are spreading very rapidly. Some are still probably going on.

  • holdenj-orv
    11/29/2016 - 02:32 p.m.

    Forest Fires cause Tree Torture. XDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXDXD

  • rd-gai
    12/01/2016 - 10:06 a.m.

    they need to put the fire out before it spreads.What happens if the fire spreads across the nation?

  • rj-gai
    12/01/2016 - 02:31 p.m.

    I can not believe that the fire is traveling this fast. Is the fire traveling from North to South, or South to North?

  • wyattc1-har
    12/01/2016 - 04:16 p.m.

    There are more firefighters coming to the area because e if it keeps spreading it could really hurt the environment more and before it spreads to far. This is bad because it can really hurt some people and and an impact on the environment. This is bad for a few more things in that It will take out a lot of peoples homes. This is bad because the animals living there and the business there so people can hike. They need to get those fires out fast before it causes more problems.

  • db-gai
    12/02/2016 - 08:00 a.m.

    The fires are keep on happening and we need to do something about this. What would happen if a wild fire spreads around the whole state.

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