North Carolina wildfires prompt local state of emergency, poor air quality

A state of emergency is in effect for North Carolina's Henderson County where the Poplar Fire continues to threaten homes. Code orange and red alerts are in place through Monday for southwest North Carolina due to wildfire smoke.

HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. – Several wildfires continue to burn in western North Carolina, sending smoke throughout the region prompting air quality alerts and evacuations.

A state of emergency is in place in Henderson County, where the Poplar Drive Fire has burned more than 430 acres near Edneyville and is only 5% contained. The fire destroyed at least two homes and one outbuilding, with one other home sustaining minimal damage.


"The County declared a State of Emergency in support of our partner Volunteer Fire Departments and the Sheriff’s Office," Henderson County Manager John Mitchell said in a statement. "The declaration will give the County the tools we need to protect life and property. It will also provide the opportunity to seek additional State and Federal resources to support our partner agencies."

Edneyville Fire & Rescue officials said weather conditions improved overnight into Monday and no additional structures were damaged. About 34 homes threatened by the Poplar Fire are under evacuation and people are still being asked to avoid the area.

About 40 miles south of the Poplar Fire, dry conditions helped fuel a brush fire in Asheville, which the Asheville Fire Department contained on Sunday. 

Near Andrews, the Collett Ridge Fire has burned 2,150 acres and remains uncontrolled. There are no evacuations in place for the fire. However, the smoke has settled in the valley, blanketing Andrews in thick smoke. 

Air quality alerts in North Carolina

Code Orange and Red health alerts are in place through Monday for southwestern North Carolina due to smoke from the ongoing wildfires, according to the North Carolina Air Quality Forecast Center.


Air quality alerts are in place for elevations above 4,000 feet in Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties through midnight Tuesday morning. A code orange air quality alert is in place for all of Henderson and Graham counties.

In Cherokee and Henderson counties, air quality has dropped to "unhealthy" and "unhealthy for sensitive groups" levels on the Air Quality Index.

The U.S. Forest Service said the smoke should lift later on Monday improving air quality. 

Adding to the fire risk are ongoing drought conditions in North Carolina. Rangers said drought and low humidity have helped increase fire activity for the Collett Fire. 

Severe drought persists in Southwest North Carolina with moderate drought conditions throughout the western half of the state. 

With the ongoing drought and fire risk, a burn ban remains in place for several counties in the region.