An aircraft from the US Forestry Service drops fire retardant on a wildfire burning along the Flipper Bend area of Signal Mountain in Hamilton County, Tenn., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (Dan Henry/The Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
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At least 20 wildfires in North Carolina are being investigated as suspected arson, officials said, as firefighters from across the country focused a pocket of fires in the bone-dry southern Appalachian mountains.A division of the U.S. Forest Service said fires have been burning on more than 25 square miles in the Nantahala National Forest in the western part of North Carolina. The national drought report shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 Southern states living in drought conditions.More than 560 firefighters and staff from at least 40 states were battling 18 blazes in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina, and state climatologist Rebecca Ward said some counties are having one of their driest years in 105 years of record-keeping.Firefighters in Alabama have battled more than 1,100 fires that have charred nearly 12,000 acres in the last month.Nearly 300 people are battling that fire, which already consumed about 15 square miles, the Forest Service said.
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