The 15 wildfires currently burning on the Cherokee Indian Reservation are now 90 percent contained according to information from the Sierra Front Incident Management Team on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The fires, which started on Wednesday, Nov. 2, range 756 acres.
As of Tuesday, 71 personnel were working the fires. Five structures are threatened, but to date, none have been lost. Sierra Front relates that there is not an estimated date of total containment. Some of the fire personnel were sent to the Clear Creek Fire to assist the Uwharrie Ranger District.
“Fire suppression crews continue to monitor and patrol all fires within the Qualla Boundary,” said the Sierra Front public information office said in a statement on Monday. “Safety of the firefighters and the community is number one priority as the firefighters go about their daily responsibilities. Fire prevention is extremely important in the community.”
Officials also stress holiday cooking safety. “When deep frying turkeys, please have at least 10 feet clearance from any flammable material. Never leave a turkey fryer unattended. Make sure your turkey is thawed. Extra water will cause the oil to spill over the burner and may start a fire.”
A burn ban remains in effect for the Qualla Boundary until further notice. All fires currently burning are under investigation by local law enforcement. Since October, a total of 35 fires have burned within the Qualla Boundary. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is seeking information regarding arson fires on Indian Lands through the WeTip Program (www.wetip.com).
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced on Thursday, Nov. 17 that the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 to be issued to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are responsible for setting wildfires in western North Carolina. More than 46,000 acres have been burned by wildfires throughout the region, many of which are believed to be man-made.
“We are committed to doing all we can to support our firefighters, protect people and property, and find those who may be responsible for any wildfires in North Carolina,” Gov. McCrory said. “Firefighters are making progress, but the job is not over.”
Statewide, the Governor’s Office related that 2,100 personnel are fighting fires which have burned more than 46,700 acres and threatened 1,800 structures.
– One Feather staff report