The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has closed South Mountains Game Land north of N.C. 226 effective immediately due to the wildfires currently burning in western North Carolina. South Mountains Game Land encompasses more than 21,000 acres in Burke, Cleveland, McDowell and Rutherford counties.

Officials also have closed access to Toxaway Game Land in Transylvania County and some roads on the Nantahala Game Land, which is located in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania counties. Updated road closures on Nantahala and other game lands on national forests can be viewed on the USFS webpage.

Visitors to state-owned game lands can view opening and closings on the agency’s game lands webpage.

Depending on how quickly the fires spread and how long they last, officials may close additional roads or access to other game lands, if needed. Officials are keeping a close eye on the Chestnut Knob fire, which continues to spread, bringing it closer to South Mountains Game Land.

Game land visitors should give wide berth to fire trucks and other emergency vehicles they see and should exercise caution even if there are no fires nearby.

“Western deer gun season opens on Nov. 21 and we want to remind hunters that even though they may not see a fire in a particular area, they should remain alert at all times due to the extremely hazardous conditions,” said Dean Simon, a wildlife forester with the Commission. “We appreciate the understanding of all our sportsmen during this difficult time and want them to know that we are monitoring conditions closely and will re-open any game lands and roads as soon as conditions are safe.”

A burning ban, issued by the N.C. Forest Service on Nov. 7 , is in effect until further notice for all 25 counties in western North Carolina. This ban extends to all private and public lands, including game lands.

As of Nov. 16, nearly 20 large wildfires, affecting more than 46,000 acres, are burning in western North Carolina counties. More than 1,800 structures have been threatened and evacuations continue on Party Rock Fire, which is burning in Chimney Rock area, according to Brian Haines, a spokesman for the N.C. Forest Service. For updates on wildfires burning in North Carolina, visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/34/0/.