"This fire has the characteristics of western fires, of California fires," a North Carolina fire chief tells the Charlotte Observer as dozens of major wildfires blaze in the drought-ravaged South. "This is the worst I've ever seen." The Tennessee Division of Forestry is currently fighting 67 wildfires over about 16,000 acres. Fire officials say the largest active wildfire in the region has now burned more than 19,000 acres in the north Georgia mountains, an area larger than New York's Manhattan. All told, wildfires have burned more than 80,000 acres of forest and blanketed large areas of the south in dangerous haze. A section of the Appalachian Trail several miles long has been closed as a result of fires in Georgia and North Carolina, and NPR reports people are being evacuated in those states as well as Tennessee.
With no sign of coming rain, the Tennessee Valley Authority has issued a burn ban on its public lands in seven states, the AP reports. The TVA on Tuesday said the ban applies to anything that might produce an open flame, from campfires to smoking cigarettes. It's even prohibited to park a car off-road where a hot tailpipe might light up dry grass or leaves. The rules apply across Tennessee and in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has banned outdoor burning in more than half the state's counties through Dec. 15. (Read more wildfires stories.)