Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday expanded a wildfire state of emergency to Mecklenburg and 21 other counties.
McCrory also added Iredell, Cabarrus, Rowan and Union counties to the list of 47 counties impacted by wildfires in western North Carolina.
The N.C. Forest Service has issued a burning ban on all open burning and canceled burning permits in the counties.
“As we approach Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for the firefighters, first responders and volunteers who have sacrificed so much to help save lives and protect property in North Carolina,” McCrory said. “This designation will help ensure counties threatened by wildfires and our emergency responders will have the tools needed to fight the most serious and dangerous fires we have experienced in North Carolina in decades.”
The 25 counties covered by the original state of emergency include Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cleveland, Lincoln and Gaston.
Nearly 3,000 firefighters from across the state and country are fighting the wildfires that have burned more than 69,000 acres. While nearly 2,300 homes and buildings have been threatened, only two were destroyed, McCrory said. The estimated cost of the wildfires is nearly $30 million, the governor said.
The state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for setting wildfires. Anyone with information about the wildfires should call Macon County Crimestoppers at 828-349-2600 or Jackson County Crimestoppers at 828-631-1125.