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Dozens of wildfires in Southeastern U.S. burn over 80,000 acres

In Tennessee, firefighters are currently fighting 67 wildfires covering about 16,000 acres. But fire officials all agree that the largest wildfire to date in the region is the 19,000 acre wildfire in the North Georgia mountains. It has burned an area bigger in area than the size of Manhattan.

The smoke from all the fires has left many areas of the South covered in an eye-burning, and dangerous smoky haze. The peaks of the Eastern Continental Divide, some more than 2,000 feet in elevation, held the thick smoke in like a soup bowl on Sunday, prompting air-quality warnings from Ashville into South Carolina and beyond.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Twitter

The fires in Georgia and North Carolina forced the closing of a section of the Appalachian Trail several miles long, reports the NRP, and prompted the evacuation of people in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Adam Rondeau, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, says the two largest wildfires are Georgia’s Rough Ridge fire, which has consumed 19,411 acres, and North Carolina’s Tellico fire, which covers close to 13,676 acres.

“With the dry conditions as they are, this is a long-term response effort,” Rondeau said. “This isn’t going to happen in a couple of days. We’re going to be looking at weeks.”


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Twitter

The drought situation in the Southeast
While much of the South got precipitation last week, it wasn’t near enough to quench the wildfires or make any kind of impact on reservoir levels. In Alabama and Georgia, temperatures were 10 degrees above normal and precipitation was at near zero.

The drought has extended into South Carolina and on up into northern North Carolina. There are also reports of abnormally dry conditions in western Virginia and the panhandle of Florida. All of Kentucky is in moderate to severe drought conditions, as well as Tennessee, with the exception of the southeastern part of the state where drought conditions are at the severe and extreme level.

A NASA satellite image shows smoke from wildfires in Kentucky  North Carolina  Tennessee and Virgini...

A NASA satellite image shows smoke from wildfires in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

With no sign of rain coming in the next few weeks, The Associated Press says the Tennessee Valley Authority has issued a burn ban for public lands in seven states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The ban applies to anything that might produce a spark, including hot tail pipes on cars, campfires and cigarettes.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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