Warning: Wildfires spreading unhealthy air over most of NC

Wildfires

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Environmental officials are warning of unhealthy air spreading across most of North Carolina as 15 wildfires burn more than 45,000 acres of land.

The North Carolina Division of Air Quality said Friday that the wildfires in western North Carolina could carry high levels of air pollution as far away as the state’s Research Triangle region through Saturday. Residents in the mountains, foothills and Piedmont regions could be breathing unhealthy air, depending on wind directions.

Residents in the mountain counties of Buncombe and Henderson who were forced to evacuate due to the fires will be allowed to return to their homes Saturday.

Firefighters on the 6,700-acre Party Rock warn it could kick up with significant wind forecast for this weekend. There’s been no rain in the area for 46 days.

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This story has been corrected to describe the scope of western North Carolina wildfires as more than 45,000 acres, not more than 50,000 acres.