GLEN JEAN, WV (WVNS) — As of Monday, November 13, 2023, the Steep Valley Fire is up to 1,946 acres.
The fire still burns in the remote parts of the park in the War Ridge and Backus Mountain areas, and is still within park boundaries. As of Sunday evening, the fire is 66 percent contained and around five and one-third miles of the eight and one-half miles of the fire perimeter.
The fire is burning in steep, rugged, and inaccessible terrain. Smoke from the fire may be visible while the fire burns and could remain in the gorge for days as the fire moves.
The predicted drying trend in the area has revived fire activity. With the increase in fire behavior, firefighters will monitor the fire, reinforce the fire lines, and make decisions that could include burning out pockets of fuel to strengthen existing fire lines. With fire activity increasing, smoke will be in the gorge and could linger for a few days. Air quality in and around the New River Gorge is shifting between good and acceptable, and will continue to be monitored.
61 firefighters were engaged in the fire as of Saturday, November 11, 2023. As of Monday, November 13, 2023, crews will be reinforcing and maintaining fire lines as the warming and drying trend continues. Firefighter safety remains a top priority, and so far there has only been one minor firefighter injury.
The closure order for areas of the park, that originally included the War Ridge Campground and its access road, has been expanded. The closure order now includes all National Park Service lands bounded by the New River on the south and west to the town of Quinnimont, due east along State Highway 41 to the intersection of Backus-Red Spring road, then continues directly south to the CSX railroad right of way at the river. The closure areas are being expanded out of caution for firefighter safety. The rest of the park remains open for normal hours of operation. If fire activity and conditions change, park management will decide if park operations need any adjustments.
Resources from numerous state and federal agencies from across the country, including a private crew from Oregon, have arrived to help New River Gorge National Park and Preserve personnel.
More updates and information can be found here.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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