Smoke Hole Fire Update - 11/18/2013

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Smoke Hole Fire Update - 11/18/2013

Forestry Service and WV Forestry

November 18, 2013
For more information call:  304-257-4488 extension 28
US Forest Service Public Information Officer, Robert Beanblossom, 304-993-1862
Division of Forestry Public Information Officer, Leslie Fitzwater Smithson, 304-957-9342

  The Smoke Hole Fire is in the Smoke Hole area of the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District, Monongahela National Forest, approximately 11 miles southwest of Petersburg, and 3 miles northeast from the community of Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County, West Virginia. 
Acres:  Approximately 1,600 acres

Containment: 60% contained

Fire Cause: The Smoke Hole Fire was reported in the afternoon of Sunday November 10, 2013.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Resources on the Fire: Approximately 180 firefighters and support staff, including four crews, two modules, six engines, two bulldozers, and one helicopter are assisting with the Smoke Hole Fire.

Current Situation: Crews made fantastic progress yesterday doing safe, solid work all around the fire.  Engine and hand crews continued to doing mop-up and patrol.  Firelines were strengthened and widened in anticipation of last night’s winds.  As of this morning, a total of 15 miles of handline and 3 ½ of bulldozer fire line have been constructed.  The helicopter completed over 50 bucket drops, dropping over 9,000 gallons of water in active fire areas, helping cool the northern flank below Champe Rocks.  Minimal fire behavior is predicted for this morning, as a result of the rain received last night.  However, erratic winds, with gusts up to 40mph, are forecasted for today and have the potential to cause unpredictable fire behavior.

Closures: An emergency closure order is in effect on national forest system lands in the following area: Redman Run Trail (Trail #507) from the North Fork Mountain Trail (Trail #501) to Smoke Hole Road (Grant County Road 23). National Forest System Lands (NFS) in Pendleton County between Highway 28/55, Pendleton County Road 23 to Eagle Rock. NFS lands north of Dry Hollow Creek.  At the end of Dry Hollow Creek to the northeast boundary of Seneca Rocks Area.  NFS lands and Seneca Rocks Area boundary to the northwest boundary of NFS lands and Seneca Rocks on the Cheat/Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest. 

Cooperators: The Smoke Hole Fire is cooperatively managed under a unified command structure between the West Virginia Division of Forestry and US DA Forest Service.  Additional support is available from Franklin, Upper Tract, Seneca Rocks, Moorefield and Petersburg volunteer fire departments.

General Fire Information:
  • Safety of the public and firefighters is always the number one priority when dealing with wildfires.
  • Firefighters are using direct and indirect tactics under a full suppression objective.
  • No structures have been affected at this time.
  • Smoke may be visible in the surrounding area for several days.
  • All individuals are prohibited from entering the Federal lands within Smoke Hole Fire closure area unless specifically authorized.  The closure order will remain in effect during active fire suppression and throughout post-fire rehabilitation efforts.