PETERSBURG, W.Va. — Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say the area of the Monongahela National Forest closed during the Smoke Hole Fire in Pendleton County will be reopened this weekend. The are encompassing about three square miles will reopen Sunday morning at 12 a.m.
The Forest Service closed the area November 13 to the public out of caution for the safety of firefighters and the public. Forestry officials say the Smoke Hole Fire covered1,620 acres north of Seneca Rocks. As of Friday the fire is being officially declared under control by Forest officials.
“We do have a few hot spots we flew over with the helicopter,” said Assistant Fire Management Coordinator Jeremy Nelson with the U.S.Forest Service. “We don’t feel they are a threat to the containment lines we put in.”
Earlier this week Cheat-Potomac Forest Ranger Troy Waskey told MetroNews the fire was “human caused.” Nelson could not add anything additionally to the report about a cause for the fire which began on private land and jumped onto the National Forest.
Nelson said the fire’s demise was aided by cloud cover and some rain. At the height of the fire 190 personnel were helping to battle the blaze. Nelson said they are happy to get the closure lifted in time for Monday’s opening day of buck season.
“We’re pretty happy as a forest and a district to be able to open the forest back up,” he said. “What we’ve got scheduled as of now is effective Sunday morning at 12 a.m.”