PETERSBURG, W.Va. – The U.S. Forest Service late Wednesday issued a closure order for the area around the Smoke Hole Fire in Pendleton and Grant County, W.Va. The fire has burned since Sunday and remains out of control, although officials at the fire scene say forest fire fighters made good progress to contain the flames Wednesday. The impacted area encompasses nearly 1,400 acres in the rugged Potomac Highlands region of West Virginia.
The closure order includes areas of the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest.
“This action is being taken to provide for public and firefighter safety while we work to protect National Forest property and resources and private structures.” said Troy Waskey, District Ranger of the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District.
The closure order is in effect for up to 120 days unless otherwise rescinded by the Forest Supervisor. Such a stretch could impact the deer and bear hunting season in the region, but most who are close to Forest Service leadership doubt the closure will be in effect that long.
Under the order all individuals are forbidden to enter National Forest land in the identified zone unless specifically authorized.
The boundaries “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 to 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.”