Monday, May 2, 2016

Appalachian Trail Reopens in Hot Springs

All trails in the Silver Mine Fire area including the Appalachian Trail are open as of today, Monday, May 2nd.

Fire crews, along with resource specialists and partners from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, worked over the weekend to assess the condition of trails and clear potential hazards. While the trails are open for passage through the area, hikers are advised to stay on the trail and not to camp or linger in the burn area because hazards may still exist. Hazards may include fire weakened trees, stump holes, and dislodged logs or rocks.

The Silver Mine fire has now burned approximately 5,700 acres within the containment lines and containment remains at 90%. Fire managers estimate that the final acreage will be around 6,000 acres.

Firefighters made progress on fire line repair work in the burn area over the weekend. Crews are working closely with Resource Advisors to reduce or eliminate the possibility of erosion and sedimentation resulting from fire suppression activities such as fire lines, reopened roads and other disturbed areas. Efforts today will focus on continuing fire line repair, as well as monitoring the few small pockets of active burning.

Longer term plans for restoration also continue. Fire on the landscape can have both positive and negative effects on the forest. A Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team is on the fire today to identify areas of high fire intensity that may need further monitoring or active restoration to protect water quality or forest health from damage after the fire is fully contained.

Members of the National Forests in NC Incident Management Team, a specialized team to manage wildfire response, have been in Hot Springs since the fire began meeting the planning, logistical and other needs of the firefighting effort. The team will continue managing the fire through the coming week to finish the on-the-ground work.

The following Forest Service Roads (FSR) will remain closed to the public while they are being used for firefighter traffic:

* Hurricane Gap Rd (NC-FSR467 / TN-FSR31 (Cherokee NF))
* Mill Ridge Rd (NC-FSR113)
* Shad Rd (TN-FSR422 (Cherokee NF))

Firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Forest Service, local Volunteer Fire Departments, and North Carolina Emergency Management are assisting in firefighting efforts. The fire was determined to be human caused, but the exact cause remains under investigation.


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