Southern fires rage with 41.6 million now living in drought

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. Wildfires burning across the South have created a smoky haze over metro Atlanta and prompted a public health advisory in Kentucky, and the forests are expected to continue burning for days as flaming leaves fall to the ground and spread the flames. Other fires were burning in parts of Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee. (Dan Henry/The Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) - Federal authorities say warmer-than-average temperatures and no rainfall are deepening a drought that's sparking forest fires across the Southeastern U.S., forcing people to evacuate dozens of homes.

Thursday's national drought report shows 41.6 million people in parts of 15 southern states now live in drought conditions. The worst is in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, but extreme drought also is spreading into western North and South Carolina.

Most of the large fires Thursday are being fought in Tennessee and Kentucky.

In the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, people living on five roads near one roaring blaze were advised to leave their homes, and residents of 38 more homes in another part of the state were told to evacuate ahead of a separate wildfire.