TIGER, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the Southeast (all times local):
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory says the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for setting wildfires in the western part of the state.
McCrory announced the reward during a briefing in Bat Cave, North Carolina, one of the towns evacuated because of threat of wildfires.
McCrory also said dry conditions are causing the wildfires to spread, so people across the region need to continue taking steps to prevent wildfires. The governor said he was also concerned about air quality in western and central North Carolina. Smoke from the wildfires drifted eastward, specifically leaving a haze over the city of Charlotte.
Also of concern is the weekend weather forecast, which calls for winds that could gust up to 50 mph.
Thick smoke has settled over a wide area of the southeastern U.S., where wildfires are burning through decades of leaf litter, and people are breathing in tiny bits of the southern Appalachian forests with every gulp of air.
It's a constant reminder of the dozens of wildfires threatening small mountain communities in Rabun County, Georgia, where people feel like they're under duress.
Tim Free, a lifelong resident, breaks down with emotion as he describes how elderly neighbors are struggling with relentless smoke so thick it blocks the sun.
Scott Cates, the pastor of Liberty Baptist church, says many fear the fires will consume their homes.