PETERSBURG, W.Va. — A light rain over the Potomac Highland region of West Virginia Friday night helped, but it wasn’t nearly enough to end the Smoke Hole fire. The fire which has consumed 1,400 acres of the Monongahela National Forest has been burning for a week.
“It is now considered 40 percent contained,”said U.S. Forest Service Spokesman Bob Beanblossom on Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors Saturday morning. “The most active portion of the fire was on National Forest land in the east and up slope section of Champ Rocks.”
The number of firefighters now working to build fire lines and contain the blaze is at 175. Beanblossom said a couple of bulldozers and a helicopter are also proving effective, but the area is rough country for the fire fighters.
“It’s steep, rocky slopes,” said Beanblossom. “The number one priority in any fire is firefighter and public safety.”
Safety is the reason for an emergency order from the District Forest Ranger to close the area of the fire zone off from the public.
A cause for the fire remains under investigation by agents from the U.S. Forest Service and the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
“At this time the cause is undetermined,” Beanblossom said.
The fire started just after noon on Sunday, November 10. The fall burning laws are in effect which prohibit any outdoor burning between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. There’s no indication if a debris fire may have been the spark which started the blaze.