A 500 acre fire tore through the slopes above Ridgecrest on Tuesday afternoon. As of Wednesday at noon, the fire has been 50% contained.

The morning after: Photos from the Black Mountain/R­idgecrest Wildfire

Around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31, a brush fire caused by unknown sources in the Ridgecrest area of Buncombe County erupted across the ridgeline. Spurred by gusty winds and dry conditions, the blaze soon spread across the mountains bordering Black Mountain, destroying several homes and forcing residents to flee to safety as state and federal Park Service officials, along with firefighters from across Western North Carolina, came in droves to battle the wildfire.

Up Against 100: The higher the index, the higher the cost of living. In green, each city’s actual average wage varies, but when adjusted by the cities’ cost of living, it begins to show just how far those dollars actually go. In Asheville and Charleston, the numbers on residents’ paychecks don’t go as far as they would in Savannah, Knoxville or Durham. Graph by Lance Wille

Asheville’s cost of living undermines workers’ pay

An article published last month in Governing magazine examined 191 cities around the country, comparing average hourly wages with each city’s cost of living. The analysis included big cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles, as well as smaller cities like Asheville. Xpress sifted through the numbers to find out how Asheville compares with the rest of the country.