Friday, June 29, 2012

Wildfires in Southern Appalachians Grow; More Trail Closures

As of this morning there are now 47 uncontained large wildfires burning nationwide, up 6 from yesterday. Below is a run down of the three fires burning in the Southern Appalachians:

The Neighbor Mountain Fire in Shenandoah National Park has grown to 800 acres as of yesterday afternoon. The fire is burning north of Route 211 and west of Skyline Drive. Seventy-three firefighters and overhead staff are currently assigned. Heat and rough terrain are expected to slow suppression efforts over the next several days, while the estimated date for full containment is July 15th. The following trails and facilities are closed:

* Appalachian Trail between Elkwallow and Beahms Gap
* Jeremys Run Trail
* Neighbor Mountain Trail
* Knob Mountain Trail
* Knob Mountain Cutoff
* Jeremys Run Overlook
* Byrds Nest #4 shelter

Just north of Shenandoah is the Point 2 Wildland Fire, which has grown to 353 acres as of last night. The fire is located on Massanutten Mountain between Veach Gap and Sherman Gap in the counties of Warren and Shenandoah, in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. The fire is still only 5% contained, but 105 fire-fighting personnel are on hand. The following trails are closed until further notice:

* Massanutten National Recreation Trail (#408) from Shawl Gap to Veach Gap
* Tuscarora Trail (#405.1) is closed from Shawl Gap to Panhandle Road (SR 613)
* Sherman Gap Trail (#403)
* Veach Gap Trail (#484)
* The Little Crease Trail Shelter is also closed

US Forest Service officials in 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.”

Finally, the Iron Mountain multi-use trail, located adjacent to Cottonwood Patch campground in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, is temporarily closed on the Tennessee side due to fire activity. The trail will re-open once conditions are safe.


Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com

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