NEW DETAILS: Friday's rain expected to give firefighters a much - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

NEW DETAILS: Friday's rain expected to give firefighters a much needed break

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UPDATE - Friday April 25, 2014:

On Friday, April 25, Rangers with the National Park Service announced that the Fern Creek Fire in the New River Gorge National River remains 90-percent contained. The fire began on Sunday, April 20. Crews will be working throughout the day on Friday to monitor the fire and mop up the burn. According to the NPS, there are still some hot spots and heat within the perimeter of the burn.

Officials said that the rain on Friday is expected to provide firefighters with a much needed break. After the weather breaks, firefighters and Park Rangers will assess the area and plan for future action.


UPDATE:

Officials with the National Park Service updated the ongoing efforts to put out a brushfire that has burned 130 acres of the New River Gorge National River. They said on Wednesday, April 23 that the fire is nearly completely contained, but not yet fully controlled. Firefighters said that in some places the fire is burning a few acres over the fire lines that have been set up. Crews at the fire line said that this is a learning process because it is the biggest fire of this kind that has been seen in the area.

One of the groups that is helping to put out the fire, The "Midewin Hot Shots," is the same crew that lost 19 firefighters in last summer's fire in Arizona. Fire Management Officer, Peggy Ainslei, said the fire is definitely appears suspicious. She added that she was almost positive its caused by human error. Meanwhile, the Endless Wall trail is still closed. Park Rangers said that they will not reopen the trail until the fire is completely out. According to Ainslei that will take at least another week. Over the next few days officials said crews would work on cutting down trees and brush in the area of the fire.


ORIGINAL STORY:

Firefighters are dealing with a brush fire that has spread through the New River Gorge National River. The brush fire was originally reported on Sunday April 20 at 11:15 p.m. Officials with the National Park Service said that it is now spread across 15 to 20 acres. It is off of Lansing Edmond Road near one of the climbing access points. That is just north of the New River Gorge Bridge.

The Park Service has closed the Endless Wall Trail from the Fern Creek parking lot to Diamond Point. Climbing areas in that area are also closed. From midnight until 4:45 a.m., several NPS rangers along with firefighters from Fayetteville and Nuttall Fire Department fought the fire.

The NPS crew is reassessing the tactic for direct attack on the fire, as the terrain is treacherous and steep, and the relative humidity is at 21-percent. These factors along with an upslope wind are causing spot fires and embers to fall across the fire line that firefighters cut to break the fire spread. As of 3:30 p.m. on Monday, April 21 the NPS called in additional resources and crews to contain the fire. The source of the fire is under investigation.