UPDATE Wed 8:00 a.m…  Officials with the U.S. Forest Service said the fire has grown to an estimated 1,200 acres.

UPPER TRACT, W.Va. – A wildfire is burning out of control on North Mountain in Pendleton County in the Monongahela National Forest. More than 80 foresters and local firefighters are battling the blaze that started on Sunday near Upper Tract.

“[The fire] started on private land and it’s moved west/northwest on to national forest land, southwest of Petersburg,” according to Sarah Hankens with the U.S. Forest Service.

The blaze is 20 percent contained. It’s being called the North Mountain Fire and so far has destroyed 720 acres.

Bob Beanblossom with the U.S. Forest Service said crews are having a hard time reaching some parts of the fire because of the terrain in the Potomac Highlands.

“It is steep, rocky terrain. There are a lot of standing, dead trees that firefighters have to be careful of. It does certainly pose some hazards.” Beanblossom said half the battle is reaching those remote areas.

The fire is so large, the U.S. Forest Service has called in crews from out west.

“We have a lot of folks here from the Monongahela National Forest but there are crews from as far west as Oregon, Idaho and Washington,” explained Beanblossom.

Even more foresters are set to arrive from Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Most of the fire is contained within the national forest and that’s where crews want to keep it.

“There is private property adjacent to the forest, not too far from where the fire is located,” said Hankens. “We do have personnel out on the fire line assessing both direct and indirect ways to create fire lines to try and keep the fire on national forest.”

So far, that part of Pendleton County has not seen any of the rain or snow much of the state received Tuesday morning. However, the humidity is high and that’s keeping the flames from spreading faster. Beanblossom said precipitation would drastically help the effort to gain control of the blaze.

Most forest fires in West Virginia tend to be small. Since July, fewer than 1,525 acres have burned total across the state. However, Hankens said the North Mountain Fire is not typical. Because conditions are so dry and there’s a lot of debris on the forest floor, crews are dealing with difficult situations in different parts of the forest.

“It varies throughout the fire. Flame length can be anywhere from 2 inches to 2 feet or above,” stressed Hankens.

No word on when the fire might be contained. Foresters said it all depends on the weather and how quickly they can reach some of more remote areas.

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  • Mark

    It would just be nice to get some general latitude and longitude information so I can look at a map and get some idea where this really is.

    • northforkfisher

      Look on the map at seneca rocks. Then locate the 2 pipe lines running to the east, at the top of the mt go north for about 2-5 miles just south east of champ rocks and u will see the location.

  • Leana Timbrook

    Prayers of safety for all of the people and animals in the area and prayers for a nice steady rain to soak the flames. may God be with all involved.

    • rexcraigo

      Curious as to why your god wouldn't protect all those things in the first place without you asking?

      And why injure them in the first place? I mean if he can decide whether or not to injure them can't he decide not to?

      Don't get it.

      • countrybabiegurl

        God has ways to get our attention if you just ask him he'll answer you things like this makes us stronger as people

  • tiff

    Prayers to the firefighters and all out there.

  • Jeff Jenkins

    thanks Darin

  • leroy j gibbs

    Good picture. Looks bigger than 2 foot flames.pray for our firefighters

  • JTC

    Harpers Ferry spot on read on these board it is always someone else's fault, not surprised by the lack of state knowledge .

  • wvhilljack

    First of, I doubt anyone cares where it is except those whom it may directly affect. If you want your particular little town in the news, go out and do something newsworthy. Second, I have heard that the fire depts. are not allowed to even pull off the road let alone take any vehicles anywhere off the road to where the fire is due to it being National forest. Is this true and if it is, can they get any type of vehicles, 4-wheelers or such near the fire anyway?

    • Lowlander

      To answer your question...in general, when a fire is on federal property, they (US government) take over the firefighting; not as a "Hey Jack, this is our land!" but more to relieve the local resources to deal with the actual emergencies in their respective areas, as they have federal resources that mitigate such fires. That said, because it is federal property, and not state property, they have a lot of say about motor traffic unless the fire is directly threatening life. If the situation was say, a missing person, then yes, they generally will open lands to rescue crews with motorized conveyance.

      • MtnMomma

        have to agree with Lowlander on this. Besides most small town volunteer fire departments and many paid fire departments are not equipped or trained to fight a wildfire. This is not just a backyard brush fire nor is it the same as fighting a house fire. Those who are not trained absolutely do not need to be anywhere near this fire and neither do their vehicles. Only emergency vehicles deemed necessary by the USFS should be in that area at this time.

  • dumb dumb

    for all of you who thinks that ou know the area. The fire started in Smoke Hole. It is a valley between cave mountain and North mountain. it started in Pendleton county not too far from the grant county line. It is on north mountain moving towards mount of senca

  • David Kennedy

    This fire should be managed and let burn.
    It will be an asset to wildlife and the forest in general to let it run its course.
    The Indians and early pioneers managed the forest land with fire and this is an opportunity to do it again.

    • Debra K Dove

      You do understand that there is a gas pumping station at Seneca Rocks that if it blows would
      be a major disaster. Lines run all over to various locations, houses and businesses.
      I also hope you understand there is people in the area with homes that are being threatened
      at this time as the fire is not too far away.
      Put yourself in these peoples place and you will perhaps not feel the same way. Back in Indian and Pioneer days, we did not have these things such as the gas lines.
      Thank You.

    • Debra K Dove

      Just a note to David Kennedy,
      It is NOT your property in danger here of burning, it is OURS, maybe if it were you, you would see things very differently.

    • Larry

      True, and again, when I hear wildfire, I think of the western fires where flames are hundreds of feet high, not 2.

    • WhgFeeling

      I thought the same thing. I have to take argument with the saying the forest is "destroyed"

      • David L. Peck

        New beginning for forest

        • Ronin

          All these environmentalists saying "New start for the forest" have obviously confused our eastern secondary and tertiary-growth forests with the massive stands of conifers found in CO and CA.

          We do NOT need this kind of fire... the forests are choked with storm debris from four years of hard winters and vicious springs following several years of drought.

          Funny how 99% of the people you hear saying "Oh, the forest NEEDS this fire!" 1) don't live anywhere near the fire and 2) seem to forget that humans live in and around the national forests; and that it is humans who pay the taxes that support the federal agency that safeguards these lands.

          A controlled burn with impending rain under low or no wind conditions is a good thing; necessary and vital to forest health.

          This is NOT that kind of fire. There are old graveyards and homesteads out there that will be obliterated by this; bits of our heritage that will vanish forever. Hurricane rains and winter storms could recreate some of the worst floods of the 1920s and cause massive erosion, with no hemp crops, hemlocks, ash, or chestnut trees to stabilize the soil. When new plants do sprout, in all likelihood, it will be more invasive aliens who will move into the vacuum.

          Praying for rain and the safety of all the firefighters and EMS personnel. And thanks to the person who explained federal fire fighting procedure and clarified the attitudes of the firefighters after the earlier ignorance of some posters.

          • Jamie

            Great answer I agree with you 100% I live in Upper Tract and some of the comments are just crazy when the guy said why can't people use 4 wheelers or something guess he didn't read the part where it said some of the fire is unassailable but if they could use them people should bend over backward to lend them theirs I know I would !!!

          • thornton

            All forests need regeneration....fire is one path to creating a healthy diversity. Fire tho...is not all equal.

            Plus, it is never good to lose private property thru fire or whatever from a mismanagement of our NFs....and they continue to be mismanaged.

            Hopefully, private property damage will be minimal, all firefighters will return home safe and .....any hemp gets torched. I don't want that crap on MY NF or the slugs who grow it. Peace out.

          • Larry

            While I am sure that there is some debris on the ground from previous storms, as well as from trees that naturally fall, I would be willing to bet that most of what is burning is leaf litter, these forests will recover and are not destroyed forever.

          • leroy j gibbs

            Oh no there goes my winter stash!

          • Larry

            Hemp crops?

          • WV alum

            Your email got it right, Ronin.

            I'm a "local". One mountain west.

  • Gsc_hick

    This is true there is not much that goes on. But it is hard to get any news there. But let’s hope they get this fire out soon and that there is no one hurt and no houses destroyed.

    • Larry

      I agree, and I didn't mean that as a slight, just think about what is always the lead story on the local evening news, murders, shootings, stabbings, drug busts, robberies, scandals, etc. If your county isn't in the news a lot, it's probably a good thing, just ask Mingo.

    • To Be

      Thank You very much for the positive comment...It's nice reading comments like you posted...Prayers going out to the firefighters safety...

  • Harpers Ferry

    Obama's fault, Bush's fault, Oliver Luck's fault, Rich Rod's fault, and finally, Holgerson's fault. Yep, I beat ALL of you to the punch! How do you like me now?! Haha!

    • Wowbagger

      You forgot Clements!

    • Larry

      Still apathetic towards you.

  • Gsc_hick

    Yeah it is nice to get some coverage on this. Even if it does say Grant County. Pendleton County is a forgotten County to the news of this state.

    • Larry

      In fairness though, what else besides this fire has been newsworthy in Pendleton Co of late, not a lot goes on there.


    For once,metro news finally knows what goes on in Pendleton county. If they would get out of the capital and explore the real WV side of the woods.

    • WhgFeeling

      ummm MetroNews is based out of Morgantown and the last I checked Motown is not the capital. Second, truthfully speaking, not much goes on in Pendleton Co.

  • wv hillbilly

    Would be nice if the reporter knew the State. This fire began in Pendleton County, not Grant and may still be located solely within Pendleton. Seneca Rocks is in Pendleton. It just kills me when news reports fail the accuracy test.

    • smokehauler

      Looks like some one in Grant County was triing to steal five minutes of fame

    • J D

      Did I miss something? I don't see Grant County mentioned in this article.

      • smokehauler

        it was a different aticle

      • Larry

        An earlier version of the article did say Grant Co., where it says Pendleton Co. has not received much rain or snow.

    • To Be

      It started back in Smoke Holes on the Grant County side...

    • WhgFeeling

      I must have missed something. I saw no reference to Grant Co.?

      • CamaroChic

        (Sunday near Smoke Hole Caverns....) Smoke Hole Caverns is in GRANT COUNTY and the fire DID NOT start anywhere near it.

        • WhgFeeling

          I know that Smoke Hole is in Grant Co. but as most news stories they must place a reference point to somewhere significant enough for people to understand the locality. Smoke Hole is basically the closest that most people outside of the area understand where it is. Besides it is what about 15-20 miles from Seneca/Upper Tract area and that is relatively close.

          The article made NO mention of the fire starting in Grant. Calm down, your getting some "news" for Pendleton.

          • WV Hillbilly

            WhgFeeling, 1st, the initial versions of this report DID reference Grant County. the reporter, being a good person, corrected what you now read. Second, Smoke Hole, is in Pendleton County. The caverns, which are in Grant Co, "borrowed" the name. At any rate, can't count the times that Metro News, The Charleston Gazette, etc., have reported many times that Seneca Rocks or Smoke Hole is in Grant, Spruce Knob is in Randolph, when they are all well inside Pendleton. Makes one question the accuracy of any part of what we read if they cannot get such basic facts straight. That is the point.

          • Ronin

            Smoke Hole Caverns is on the OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN from Smoke Hole Canyon. That has always been one of the greatest jokes of the area. The Caverns are actually located in Hopeville, in Hopeville Gap, specifically. But the local people don't even know where "Hopeville" is, even though there is a CCC camp there and it is named and marked as "Hopeville" on the maps. They call it "Cabins", which is actually a small community of tourist traps and fishing/hunting cabins just down the road.

            Besides, Hopeville Caverns and Resort just doesn't have the same ring to it, so Jerry Lee and family can't be blamed if they appropriated a name with some "cool" to it.

            Cool... but inaccurate.

            Upshot of this is- if YOU ALL don't know where YOU are, how do you expect anyone else to know where you are?

  • Larry

    In WV we don't have wildfires, we have forest fires, I'm sure they will get it out soon, especially with the snow that's falling there now.