US Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest say a wildfire has burned nearly two hundred acres on the Ocoee Ranger District in Polk County since Monday. The fire is located off U.S. Highway 64 near Goforth Creek in steep rugged terrain. There are currently no threats to any structures.
Approximately 50 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, and various volunteer fire departments are working on containment lines. The extremely steep terrain combined with very hot and dry conditions is making firefighting efforts difficult.
Ocoee Acting District Ranger Andy Gaston said, “Motorist should exercise caution when traveling along Highway 64. Firefighting crews and equipment as well as smoke will be in the area and may cause traffic delays. In addition, the Goforth Creek parking area will be used for firefighting access and equipment parking and is closed to public use.”
Gaston also noted that, “There have been hot and dry conditions over the last few days and this pattern will continue into the weekend and the 4th of July week. National Forest visitors need to be very careful with fire and ensure that campfires are out and cold before leaving.”
Forest Service officials say fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited on national forest lands year-round, regardless of weather conditions or holidays. Regulations are enforced, and violation is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.