Monday, February 21, 2011

Forest Fire in Shenandoah causes Trail and Skyline Drive Closures

A fire in the North District of Shenandoah National Park has resulted in closures of several trails and portions of Skyline Drive.

As a result of what is now known as the Smith Run Fire, Skyline Drive between Front Royal and Rt. 211 is now closed. The following trail closures are also in effect until further notice:

* Mt. Marshall Trail from Skyline Drive to the intersection at the Bluff Trail

* Appalachian Trail between Compton Gap and the Browntown Trail

* Lands Run Gap Fire Road

* Jenkins Gap Trail

The fire, located near Jenkins Gap near Milepost 12 on Skyline Drive, has burned approximately 1800 acres in the north district of Shenandoah National Park. It started on private property outside of the park boundary and was first reported at approximately 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 19. The fire's cause is currently unknown. The fire is moving on the surface of the forest floor where hardwood leaf litter and down trees have accumulated.

Beginning this morning, the interagency Southern Area Type 1 "Red" Incident Management Team will take over management of the fire. Roughly 78 fire personnel from a variety of state and federal land management agencies are currently fighting the fire. Along with the Smith Run Fire, the Red Team will also be taking over three fires now burning on the neighboring George Washington and Jefferson National Forest: the Pickle Branch Fire (325 acres) and the Coffman and Chestnut Ridge Fires (approximately 2,700 acres together). All four fires together will be managed as the Valley Complex.

The Smith Run Fire is estimated to be 15% contained. Fire managers will continue to build line and mop up with some burnout operations.

The rest of the park including the Skyline Drive from Thornton Gap (Rt. 211) south to Rockfish Gap (Rt. 250) remains open.


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