RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Dry weather has not been helping the fires in the western part of our state. Fortunately, there is rain in the forecast, but the wildfires in the mountains are still burning, some of them thousands of acres in size!

That includes the Black Bear Fire, which is more than 1700 acres and reducing visibility on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee and North Carolina borders.

Humans are the number one cause of wildfires, and last year, North Carolina was third in the country for the number of human-caused wildfires. 99% of fires in 2022 were a direct result of people! But remember: wildfires can be prevented!

First: never leave a fire, even if it looks like there are only embers burning. Make sure it’s totally smothered before you leave it.

Always keep your phone with you so you can call 911 if a fire gets out of hand, and also have a source of water nearby.

Pay attention to the weather: don’t burn when its dry, and especially dry and windy.

Also, smokers should dispose of cigarette butts properly. Don’t throw them outside where they could easily start a fire.

A big part of what’s fueling these wildfires is the dry conditions. Abnormally dry or drought conditions take up nearly the entire state, with extreme or severe drought in the mountains — and moderate to severe drought for parts of our region.

Fortunately, the rain that looks to arrive Tuesday could help with the dry conditions, and looking ahead to December we are expected to be wetter than average!

On Monday night, Governor Roy Cooper extended the state of emergency where those fires are burning, and a burn ban remains in place for 30 western North Carolina counties.