"California wildfires" wreak havoc across the South

Wildfires burn across South

Dry weather and drought conditions are fueling an outbreak of wildfires across the South, and thousands of firefighters are working to put out the flames.

More than 70 fires, stretched across eight southern states – including North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee -- have already charred more than 100,000 acres and forced evacuations, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

“I’m concerned it was up there at the top of the ridge and now it’s down to here,” said one evacuee. “It’s unnerving, it’s scary, it’s terrifying.”

In North Carolina, flames are threatening at least 1,700 structures.

“We have California wildfires in North Carolina...” said the state’s governor, Pat McCrory.

More than 20 wildfires are burning there – many of them being investigated for suspected arson.

“The way this fire is, it is totally different,” said Richard Barnwell, a Henderson County firefighter. This is the worst thing that I’ve ever been involved with.”

Dozens of counties are facing air quality advisories because of the massive plumes of smoke from the flames. A view from NASA shows the extent of the smoke.

Some of it has started to drift into the metro Atlanta area.

“I have twins with asthma, 12-year-old twins, and being outside with them, I’ve noticed them coughing,” said a resident.

And making it especially difficult for firefighters are the dry conditions and severe drought plaguing much of the region.

Nearly 40 percent of the Southeast is facing drought, including three-quarters of Alabama and half the state of Georgia.

“I’ve got faith that they’re going to get it out and that we’re going to be okay,” said an evacuee.

Crews and resources have poured in from as far as California to help fight these flames – about 5,000 firefighters overall. As of Tuesday morning, the Rock Mountain wildfire was only about 10 percent contained.