Updated November 11 at 9:00 A.M. 

Several miles of the Appalachian Trail along with a popular Western North Carolina climbing area have now been closed due to numerous wildfires burning in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Multiple fires have continued to grow and new ones have emerged—including the now 977-acre wildfire near Chimney Rock State Park that has forced closure of the Rumbling Bald Climbing Access Area and prompted home evacuations in the nearby town of Lake Lure.

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A wildfire burns on Rumbling Bald. Photo by Ryan Lubbers.

Fire fighting personnel are working feverishly on the ground to contain the blaze as helicopters drop water from nearby Lake Lure.

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Photo by Michele Schwartz.

Firefighters have also responded to a wildfire near the main overlook at McAfee Knob in Virginia. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, day hikers are being advised to avoid the area and hike elsewhere, while long distance hikers may pass through but should use extra caution.

The growing wildfires burning near the Appalachian Trail  have forced officials to close portions of the trail that run through the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina, where there are more than 20 wildfires burning over 17,000 acres, and the Chathoochee National Forest in North Georgia.

The A.T is now closed for 31.1 miles from the Rock Creek Gap Shelter to the Nantahala River at US19 in North Carolina, and from Hogpen Gap to Neels Gap in Georgia.

Almost all of the fires currently burning in national forest areas of Western North Carolina are said to be human caused.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-51-41-pmThat includes the Tellico Fire, which has now spread to approximately 3.400 acres, the 1,130-acre Dick’s Creek fire, the 1,130-acre Knob Fire, and the 175-acre May Branch fire.

The cause of the 3,500-acre Boteler fire is still unknown.

In a statement given to WLOS, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows said, “the troubling part is that somebody apparently is intentionally setting some of these fires. And so we want to ask everyone to be on the lookout.”

With continual dry and windy weather in the forecast for Western North Carolina for until early December, the USFS has imposed a strict fire bans for all of Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest.

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